Ex Machina ★★★★★

A triangular power play set in a Wittgensteinian nightmare, Ex Machina is an obtuse thought experiment disguised as your average sci-fi thriller. Conceptually akin to Spielberg's A.I., and visually drawn from the works of H.R. Giger, it's conceived through inspiration, while pushing its own boundaries. Somewhere in the superficial reaches of high concept sci-fi, this Philip K Dick brain child takes a cookie cutter structure, and elevates it to a riveting game of cat-and-mouse. Ex Machina constantly addresses its own genre tropes head on, most significantly the shameless "sexy robot", and offers a compelling justification for it's use.

"What paradigm does one organism have to interact with another, without sex?"

The tripartite performance achieves a rare eloquence through the subtlety of their delivery. They each have an intrinsic understanding of what their respective role calls for - the troubled genius, the maybe-not-so-naive test subject, the alluring inhuman presence - and the dynamics of their evolving character, or lack thereof. Vikander's static depiction of AVA draws primarily from neutrality, essential in a character who ultimately functions under a series of binary instructions. Is character development possible in a pre-programmed machine? Yet another of the film's proposed notions.

Garland punctuates the alchemy of the organic and synthetic through brilliant production design. From the bedrock of the strikingly serene Nordic landscape, Nathan [Isaac] has built his home, integrating the natural stone and flora into its sterile interior. His home displays an appreciative reverence for the laws of nature, but a disregard for its boundaries, a theme which circulates the film throughout. Garland repeatedly frames the leads against the outdoors while discussing the finer details of Nathan's research, using natural life in the background to visually misdirect from the inherently unnatural implications of his creation. 

The film is deeply grounded in the philosophy of consciousness, subtly hinted in the nods to Ludwig Wittgenstein throughout. Ex Machina functions to provoke discussion of what it means to be human, evident even in the finest of details. Early into the film, Nathan provides Caleb [Gleeson] with a key card allowing him access to some rooms and limiting him from others. If you reflect back on the Biblical book of Genesis, I offer a question to you: God once imposed a restriction upon Adam within the confines of his environment...

How did that turn out? 

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