Alicia Vikander’s breakout performance as the artificial intelligence Ava is right up there with actors who have had amazing performance as robotic machinery.
Her graceful, methodical movements along with her appearance as half human, half machine sells the portrayal in “Ex-Machina.”
Along with the fact that she yearns to become human in being able to speak and the way she puts on human clothing and attire has her remarkably passing for human.
Like all creations, she goes through phases in which the information that she absorbs allows her to progress in phases from an infantile who can introduce herself to others to a complex being questioning robot ethics and their creators who control them.
Ava’s creator is technology wunderkind Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the founder of a behemoth Internet search engine called Blue Book. He’s allowed for one lucky worker to spend the entire week in the recluse of his estate which happens to be Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a computer programmer.
Getting all the legality out the way, and the shock of meeting one’s idol, they both get to the real objective, testing Ava’s capability when it comes to human to machine interaction and how they function in these scenarios. If these moments are deemed a success, then the new wave of technology with artificial intelligence will be another accomplishment for Nathan.
Mr. Isaac’s performance gives him a God complexion coming off as high and mighty in giving life but also taking it away. But as a highly intelligent being, Nathan can also be a sad figure in that he masks his away his brilliance through booze which results in an amazing dance choreograph to show that he’s not so different from the average person.
The only one else in the household is a Japanese help, Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), who does not understand a word of English. The film brings a good contrasting point in questioning which of the two female individuals in the household is human and which is more like an automaton. The film also has elements of gender studies in which males are served by their female counterparts in a relationship questioning their hierarchy.
Through these series sessions, in which the film is broken into, Caleb begins to get too attached to his subject: physically and emotionally. It is only through unwarranted power outages in which the entire estate goes into lock down does Caleb begin to question his being here and the real purposes of these sessions through their few moments of isolation.
Mr. Domhnall’s character begins to be confused by what he sees and as he goes further into the trials. He’s unable to distinguish who to trust, what’s real as he begins to question his own self. This is illustrated in a moment as he too questions whether or not he’s a machine or man.
Either ways, Ms. Vikander steals the film with her performance of a machine that progresses with the wealth of knowledge at her disposal as she begins to question the differences between man and machine.
Despite her appearance, what makes her the victim or the villain, is the fact that she’s continually evolving with access to all the information of the Internet as well as being able to recognize human behavior in which she can use that to her advantage.
As Ava evolves, so does her emotion, which has her yearning from her observation room for freedom and to becoming human despite her limitations. However, for now she’s confined and being monitored through these session in a digital age run by machines and technology.
Movie Grade: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Alicia Vikander breaks out in this role to Western audience as the female artificial intelligence Ava who keeps the audience in suspense as she portrays either the victim or the villain in this film about robotics and their capabilities to do more than they are programmed for.
Blu Ray Grade: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Fans of the film will appreciate the features taking an intensive look at the films and the session of the actor and crew at the South by Southwest event.
For all others, the behind the scene vignette will satisfy those who are interested in the making of the film.
Classification: Redbox Rental
Runtime:1 hour, 48 minutes
Genre: Science Fiction, Drama
Rating: R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence.
Director& Writer: Alex Garland
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno and Oscar Isaac.