“There is nothing more human than the will to survive.”

The writer of 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd makes his directing debut with this Science fiction thriller Ex_Machina (pronounced mack-in-ah).

When young Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a 24 Year Old computer coder working for internet giant Blue Book wins a competition to spend a week with the company CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac) at his mountain retreat. Upon arriving, Caleb joins Nathan in a world changing experiment.

I’ll start out by saying that this film is not an action film. If you were expecting something in the ilk of Terminator or I.Robot, you may be slightly disappointed. If anything, this film has a more psychological thriller feel to it. So, I can imagine this film may not be for everyone and that’s fine. But if you like a film that questions the very idea of the human psyche and becomes deeply ravelled and intertwined in theory behind whether A.I. can replicate human feelings and emotions, then this might just be your cup of tea. I’d even go as far to say that Ex_Machina is 2015’s attempt at a Dr.Frankenstein like tale.

Nathan, our mysterious CEO of BlueBook (think Google but not as catchy) lives secluded from the rest of the world in the middle of freaking nowhere. Nathan has used this seclusion as a way to keep his research a secret. His research is, of course, into Artificial Intelligence. Quoted to be doing the work of gods by awestruck Caleb, Nathan asks Caleb to join him in the biggest technological advancement in the history of the world. A grant feat that Caleb cannot resist to be apart of. And yet, Nathan seems to have so many dimensions and right from the start, I knew not to trust him.

Nathan has built an A.I; a robot with artificial intelligence and seemingly consciousness. Caleb has been set a task to complete the “Turing Test”, a test to see a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviours, indistinguishable from that of a human. So, Caleb meets Ava. Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, is designed to be beautiful and, quite frankly, she is! She has a human face and hands and feet but the rest of her body visibly shows the inner workings, the mechanical parts and wires that make up who she is. She is introduced as gentle, almost young and innocent. She is a curious child, wanting to know more about this mysterious new person whom has walking into her chamber and can identify mood changes and lies in expressions on Caleb’s body movements. Vikander does a wonderful job of carrying Ava through some powerful scenes.

Gleeson also does a fantastic job of complimenting Ava’s ‘innocence’ by being an almost awkward, passive and innocent young man himself. They bond and talk and it’s strangely beautiful to watch and see their relationship form, despite obvious barriers of her clearly being a machine and that she is quite conscious of the fact. But can a machine form a genuine feelings for a human or are they simulated responses? Or can a man fall in love with a machine? When does she stop being a machine and start being considered human? A young, beautiful female human. And what happens, when you keep a conscious human trapped in a cage, longing to see the outside world? These are all questions that the film approaches and plays with throughout.

It was hard to pick and analysis this film without giving too much away but Ex_Machina is a weird and wonderfully intelligent film without a moment of rest in the 108 minutes of playtime. Always questioning and wonderfully tense for a good majority of it, the film ticks all the right boxes for someone who likes weird films with big What If questions. It’s worth a watch and will probably be one of my most talked about films this year!

Ben Howgill

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