I know we’re all psyched for Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting next weekend, but fans of science fiction can go watch a masterpiece right now (if they are lucky enough to live close enough to a theater where Ex Machina is showing).
Ex Machina is Director/Writer Alex Garland’s third film after 28 Days Later and Sunshine. I liked the former and was loving the latter until it went off the rails completely in the last act. Ex Machina doesn’t. This is science fiction that Phillip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury would be writing if they were churning out stories in today’s Information Age. It addresses technology, privacy, the dangers inherent in both, the hubris of man and his odd desire to try to create a species to replace himself. Artificial Intelligence. It’s been addressed by a hundred science fiction movies and TV shows, but never, I think, in such a thoughtful, visceral and timely fashion as it is here.
If you’re wanting plot details, you’re out of luck. This movie will take your brain out of your head, powersand it and plop it back in your mind-blown skull. The premise is established in the trailer below. Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) is brought to the eccentric home of the head of the Google-like firm for which he works (Oscar Isaac) to run a test on an AI that Isaac has created (Alicia Vikander). That’s all I’m going to say about the plot.
The economy of the storytelling is phenomenal. There is not a wasted second or line in this script. The acting from the primarily three-person cast is stellar (and if you’re a Star Wars fan, Gleeson and Isaac are both in this year’s Episode VII). The cinematography and direction; score and sound; script and cast should all be recognized. Hopefully Oscar won’t show his propensity for forgetting anything released before October.
A content warning, just because of the stupidity of parents in general: this is not a children’s science fiction adventure. It is an adult film for adults and deals with the mature practicality of building an artificial person with brutally frank (and plot necessary) R-Rated content.
This is the smartest, best-written, best-directed film I’ve seen in a very long time. I have a feeling it won’t get the recognition it deserves until it hits video given its proximity to the Avengers, but I’ve sat here for hours and tried to think of a single missed beat in this film and I’m at a loss so all I can do is award Ex Machina my first perfect score in over a year.