Since his first foray into Hollywood fifteen years ago with the screen adaptation of his book, The Beach (starring Leonardo DiCaprio in his 16th best role!), Alex Garland has become known for projects that bend the characters’ and the audience’s perception of reality. Ex Machina is no different; at different points throughout its plot, we’re not sure who’s playing who or who is even human, as opposed to an android. Playing with this tension of what’s real and what’s not is what Garland has done best for years in his screenwriting, and with Ex Machina he’s proven to be just as adept at it from behind the camera. As young programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) tries to determine whether Nathan (Oscar Isaac) has truly created artificial intelligence in the robot Ava (a breakout performance from Alicia Vikander), Garland’s directing maintains an uneasy claustrophobia until the walls crash in on us at the very end. Ex Machina ends up being about what most science fiction is about: we’re foolish to think we have control over the technology we create. But that idea has rarely been explored more astutely.
Quicker take: Alicia Vikander wows in the best movie Alex Garland’s ever been involved in.
(h/t One Perfect Shot for the pic)