Ex Machina

It’s tough sometimes, when a really (really) good movie comes along, to refrain from using adjectives like ground-breaking, game-changing, and (literally) awesome.

But sometimes a movie like Ex Machina hits theaters, and there’s really no other way to describe it.

Deliriously mesmerizing, deliciously subtle, and yet downright terrifying, it’s a sci-fi masterpiece very much in the vein of Spike Jonze’s Her and even (dare I say it) Kubrick’s 2001. It’s sparse but complex, horrifying yet sometimes wacky. It’s the best movie of the year so far, and I imagine it will remain in my top five once 2015 comes to a close.

Domhnall Gleeson is Caleb, a young coder at Bluebook (think “Google”) who is given the opportunity of a lifetime– to spend a week at the remote mountain hideaway of Bluebook’s founder Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Caleb is tasked with performing a Turing test on Ava (Alicia Vikander), a robot Nathan created– to see if her artificial intelligence can pass for “human”.

From the opening scenes clear through to the third act climax, screenwriter and first-time director Alex Garland (who wrote 28 Days Later and Sunshine) injects a gently unnerving undercurrent that permeates every character, line of dialogue, and scene. Everything that happens in Ex Machina seems just a little off– from Nathan’s intentions to Ava’s A.I. to Caleb’s motivation. The result is a spooky, unsettling ride that will keep you teetering on the edge throughout.

Gleeson and Isaac dazzle with terrifically understated performances, full of nuance but threatening to blow up at any time. Vikander, too, is brilliant, deftly straddling the line between that of a robot and living, breathing woman.

At once both sterile and vibrant, Ex Machina is an incredible, awe-inducing jaw-dropper of a film, and precisely because it winds up feeling more like science fact than science fiction, it will haunt you long after the credits start to roll.

5/5 stars