For a directional debut, Alex Garland managed to create a masterpiece. Is this beginner's luck? I think not! Ex Machina follows the story of Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson who you might recognize from About Time, Dredd and The Revenant.) He gets to travel to the research facility of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) after winning a contest. There, he is tasked to hold sessions with an AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander) to test if she is able to pass off as an advanced AI equal to and beyond the (normal) human level of thinking. Though, viewers will soon perceive that not all is what it seems. What started as a simple test turns into an escalation of events that leads to friction between the three characters. Throughout this increasingly complicated predicament you will be constantly guessing who you can trust or not.
Think of Caleb as an unlikely hero. He is not a man of action or the most courageous of characters. He may not seem brave at first, but it becomes apparent he is ready to fight for what he believes in. At the same time though he tries his best to maintain the friendship with Ava and Nathan even when he feels very conflicted. also the cross-fire of the situation as he must maintain his relationship with Ava and Nathan. Caleb is a prime example of how awkward and embarrassing a person can be. But unlike other movies, this works for Ex Machina. Caleb is more interested in the professional relationship between him and Nathan. While Nathan intends to go beyond that and wants friendship. Through these dynamics tension is created and depth is given to the characters.
Ex Machina is a film that makes quite the impact. It is definitely a debut that will last for a long time. The movie hooked me right from the opening scene. The characters are seemingly straightforward and normal yet hide their true and complex character which leads to very compelling dynamics and events. The trailer may have given the impression that Ex Machina is a fast paced film. Only this is not the case. It takes it's time to build up the characters and tension with maximum effect. A must watch for sure.