Directed & written by Alex Garland, marking his directorial debut, Ex-Machina is a 2015 British science fiction thriller film about an android with artificial intelligence. It was written and directed . The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac & Sonoya Mizuno.
Caleb, a promising young programmer working for the world’s largest search engine, Bluebook, wins a competition to join the company’s eccentric CEO, Nathan, at his secluded research facility in the mountains for a one week visit as his house guest. The only other person there is Kyoko, a young Japanese housemaid. After he is flown via helicopter to the area, he walks past a river and reached the technologically state of the art house, where Nathan welcomes him and reveals he has been working on artificial intelligence and wants Caleb to administer the Turing test to a humanoid robot named Ava. Nathan wants to conduct The Turing test – designed to test a computer’s ability to persuade the tester it is human. Caleb points out that this isn’t a fair application of the test, as he already knows Ava is a robot. Nathan tells him that Caleb’s job is to judge whether Ava has consciousness to which Caleb can relate despite knowing she is a robot.
Nathan then lets on that he took personal information from millions of BlueBook users, using their search queries as indicators of human thought. He hacked billions of cell phones for recordings of people’s expressions and body language, so Ava’s behavior would be more realistic. Caleb finds himself drawn towards Ava, despite the fact that he only sees & speaks to her with a transparent wall between them and cannot touch her as she is confined to her “apartment”. Ava uses her charging system to trigger blackouts to shut down the surveillance system. During one of these blackouts, she tells Caleb that Nathan is a liar who cannot be trusted. Caleb is convinced that due to Ava’s human-like behavior that appears to include real emotions, her confinement is abuse. He is also shocked when Nathan says that he could also re-program her, killing her current personality. Caleb also seems to be disgusted by Nathan, especially after the latter makes Kyoko dance on command.
One night after Nathan passes out drunk, Caleb borrows his keycard and goes through hours of recorded footage – watches clips of previously built robots and discovers that Kyoko is a robot. He meets Ava the next day and during the blackout asks her to initiate a blackout, during which he tells her that he will get Nathan drunk again and help her escape, and asks her to trigger another blackout at 10pm on the last night of his stay. However when the time comes Nathan refuses to drink and tells Caleb that he added a battery operated camera and saw & heard Caleb’s plan with Ava. He tells Caleb that Ava does not love him and that she is merely using him to escape from the compound. Nathan divulges his real motive for inviting Caleb: to see if Ava can be convincingly human enough to trick someone into helping her escape. When Ava triggers the blackout, however Caleb reveals he already reprogrammed the doors to open while Nathan was drunk the previous night. Angered Nathan knocks out Caleb and goes to find Ava.
He hits and breaks off one of Ava’s arms when she refuses to obey his command to go back to her confinement but is stabbed with a knife by Kyoko from behind. A stunned Nathan hits and damages Kyoko but is stabbed again by Ava and dies. Telling Caleb to wait in the living room, Ava takes a replacement arm and artificial skin from the older models and changes into clothes to acquire the appearance of a real woman. She then leaves the house, leaving Caleb locked within the building, ignoring his desperate pleas. Ava is picked up by the helicopter which arrives to pick up Caleb and goes out to explore the world.
Stunning production for a movie of it’s low budget but the brilliant performances by the 3 main stars is what sets this film apart from it’s peers. The CGI for the android is excellent as is the contrasting setting – a sleek, futuristic interior with gorgeous natural surroundings. Yet the film is a bit dull and moves along a bit too slow for me. I still rate it high and will give it an 8 outta 10! A must see for scifi buffs!