Movie: Ex Machina
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Young twenty-something Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a talented coder at the world’s largest internet company, is overjoyed to learn that he has won a contest to spend a week with the reclusive billionaire owner of his company. Following specific instructions, Caleb is flown by helicopter to a remote estate and dropped off in a vacant field, and told to follow the river until he comes to a building. The young man dutifully follows orders, and eventually finds a structure, knocks on the door, and is blinded by a camera that takes his photo and spits out a plastic ID that allows him to enter the very private domain of Nathan (Oscar Isaac), commonly referred to as the world’s greatest genius in the field of computer applications.
Once inside the secure facility, Caleb is met by Nathan, and is quickly asked to sign an iron-clad nondisclosure agreement before Caleb is even told the purpose of his visit. But once that business is taken care of, Nathan appears to be a regular down to earth kind of guy, who enjoys the adulation and companionship of one of his brightest employees. But why has Caleb been brought to this place? The answer lies with Ava, Nathan’s greatest creation. She is the world’s first AI (Artificial Intelligence), or at least that is Nathan’s hope. Caleb is there to act as an unbiased interviewer of Ava to see if she truly qualifies as AI.
This film is a very intelligent and fascinating film on several levels. It does delve into that question of how close can an AI come to becoming human. Plus there are some layers that slowly get peeled back as far as motives for the characters, and what really is going on in that remote laboratory with Caleb, Nathan, Ava, and a mute servant woman named Kyoto (Sonoya Mizuno). Just know that things are not always what they seem, and the story plays out like a sly tribute to Hitchcock. Quite an interesting film, and the scenery in Norway is absolutely beautiful.
Huh? What the….: The helicopter guy said no one is allowed to land anywhere near the billionaire’s estate. So how the heck does the food and supplies get out there?
There is a scene where Caleb apparently wants to convince himself that he is not actually an AI and cuts himself to see the blood. I would think by his age he would have seen enough of his bodily fluids to realize that it was quite unnecessary….
Dialogue Nuggets: Caleb – “How long before we get to his estate?” Helicopter Pilot – “We’ve been flying over his estate for the past two hours!”
Nathan – “Do you know what the Turing Test is?”
Ava – “Caleb, you’re wrong about Nathan. He isn’t your friend; you shouldn’t trust him.”
Ava to Caleb – “I’d like us to go on a date. Are you attracted to me?”
Caleb to Ava – “I’m here to test you to see if you have consciousness or just baling wire.”
Ava – “Late at night I’m wondering if you’re watching me on the camera.”
Nathan – “Do you think I don’t know what it’s like to be smarter than everyone else?”
Nathan – “One day the AIs will look down on us the way we look at fossils in the dust of Africa.”