“Ex Machina” is the story of a computer programmer named Caleb who wins a contest to visit the reclusive CEO of the company he works for named Nathan in order to participate in a top-secret endeavor regarding the next major step the company is taking. After signing an NDA, Caleb is introduced to Ava, an A.I. Caleb is asked to conduct a “Turing Test.” A Turing Test is a specially-designed test to determine an A.I.’s self-awareness and evaluate its humanistic qualities.
While conducting the test over several days, Ava warns Caleb that Nathan cannot be trusted and she is, in fact, a prisoner. Nathan meanwhile warns Caleb that Ava will use whatever means of deception to win over Caleb’s sympathy and that she cannot be trusted.
It’s amazing how much story is in this movie considering its short running time and the fact that the whole movie has only three speaking characters. It’s layers upon layers of intrigue. Speaking as a screenwriter, you swan dive into Act II within the first 15 seconds of the movie. It just wants to get you to the core of the story and does so masterfully all the way to the end. The characters are fully fleshed out (no pun intended) and all are intriguing.
Caleb, a contradiction in a way being a computer programmer who’s constantly quoting classic literature and giving obscure yet perfect comparisons to help you understand the “science” of what’s going on in each scene. Nathan, a recluse and heavy drinker, who has you asking yourself in the back of your head as to whether or not he’s insane. And of course, Ava, who talks about being human better than I can.
This is up for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and I already said it would win. “Ex Machina” (like all worthy science fiction films) are one of those movies you’ll want to watch again and again to try to catch every morsel of originality and intrigue.
Writing science fiction for films is always a hit-or-miss endeavor. Most of the time it will fall under the “miss” category and also most of the time it will be based on a previous literary work. “Ex Machina” is not based on anything prior. When I think back to some of the better science fiction movies,the obvious comparison that immediately comes to mind to compare “Ex Machina” to is “Blade Runner.”