Ex Machina (2014) – The Line Between Men and Gods

‘Deus Ex-Machina’, a Latin phrase which means ‘god from the machine’. It also comes from Greek tragedies. This meaning can also mean a plot device. It’s a situation of a problem that can’t be solved. Reasonably, it became unexpected. Whether they appear for whatever reason, they act as controlling a situation. They also try to assemble a plot twist. In addition, they act in making a happy ending. Sometimes, their role can be a comedy. ‘Ex-Machina’ is a term that means ‘from the machine’. For God himself, Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb is the God. He is someone who corrects the central character’s main issue. He also tried to plan the happy ending to Alicia Vikander as Ava.

The director, Alex Garland, describes the future as “10 minutes from now”. If someone from Google or Apple had announced tomorrow they had made Ava, we would all be shocked. This movie brings down another science fiction genre into more than a genre. A science-fiction movie, in general, always featuring a futuristic background. “Ex Machina” comes with the presentation of its ideas. It brings another “Black Mirror” vibe specifically “Be Right Back”. Incidentally, the episode also stars the same actor as this film, Domhnall Gleeson.

This film indeed brings a satire element with a full of philosophical. A sociological view of the close relationship between humans and Artificial Intelligence. A fear, and boring, sprang up behind the audience. Giving you a painful touch of horror. A message what if they live with us all.

The story follows Caleb who won the lottery. He comes to a secret research facility owned by Nathan (Oscar Isaac). He is the owner of a search engine company, Blue Book, where Caleb works as a programmer. Without thinking, Caleb came to Nathan’s place in the middle of the forest. Without any basis. The place is cold, calm, and far from human social life. Not even one person can contact and track. Even the president can’t contact him. After signing the contract, Nathan told Caleb that he had made an artificial intelligence robot. Caleb’s mission, in this case, is to test the robot with the Turing test.

The first meeting of Caleb with Ava began. Initially, Caleb provided simple questions regarding self-awareness. Behind the scenes, Nathan tried to monitor it. He always records every development of Ava. Much longer, Caleb is then more familiar with Ava. Instead, Caleb tries to find out who she is. Ava also wants to know more about Caleb. Until one day, the electricity went out. Ava talked about something that made Caleb have to choose difficult choices. Does he have to believe in Nathan or Ava?

“Ex Machina” gives us a path with minimal information. These minimal pieces of information then force us to complete the puzzle too. The information initially vaguely. Until the story always changes its perspective to Ava and Caleb. Nathan himself is the most important mystery as well. The set of locations are so narrow, minimal, and the use of actors too. It makes this film seem more horror. There is a question mark but there is no exclamation mark. Caleb thought whether he being used by Nathan or whether Ava was trying to manipulate Caleb.

Oscar Isaac gave his best performance as Nathan. He is so coldness. The genius of his brain full of knowledge. There is a scene when Caleb and Nathan discuss Jackson Pollock’s automatic painting being its main symbolism. In addition, he is a heavy drinker and a high ego to Ava and Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) who rarely speak. Then, the mystery begins to unfold when Caleb tries to ask about himself whether he is a robot or not. The movie gives many mysterious impressions really highlighted but with such minimal information.

Ava is a perfectly-constructed representation. Her ability to approach humans and learn them is truly terrifying. Played by Alicia Vikander nicely, the way she intimidates Caleb is really interesting. Her ability in processing everything about knowledge comes from the results of synchronization to her brain. Like the relationship between men and women but more to humans and robots. The audience doesn’t want to deceived nor fooled. Likewise, with Caleb, Ava plays its role as Artificial Intelligence with its manipulative nature. We never even know whether she has feelings or not.

The movie divided into several phases. We see this Turing test as the development of Ava in the perfect stage. Garland built its thriller as early as possible but slowly and cautiously. He always pays attention to its pace for not uncovered and still structured. The story composition then produces a cold yet sharp situation too. The special effects are one of the best, especially in the science fiction genre. Not over-the-top, this film is still minimalistic.

In addition to Ava, which is the center of attention of the story, the movie gives you noir impressions. But, it’s not too stereotypical either. Intense moments always come at a conversation during power blackouts at the facility. Ava is trying to confess her terror to Caleb and needs help against Nathan. This makes us believe how Ava is the creation of Nathan. Especially what if there is something behind it. The scenario can mean entering the test also in the form of a simulation. Or even Nathan with his genius in responding. While the commentary is a representation of traditional feminity, the more logical thinking of this mentality and extensions would be.

This film is very easy to follow. It’s just that, the essential value includes a high philosophy in order to understand it as a whole. “Ex Machina” is a science fiction movie that is so elegant and stylish. A film that explores the deepest side of humanism and the other side of technology. Nathan as a character with a high ego. Ava who managed to participate in society and Caleb who fell into its trap. Turning angles make the audience like an intruder. A classic movie, a brilliant cast, a minimal set but rich, and neat cinematography. What an amazing package.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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