Artificial intelligence, in the form of a robot that thinks – has its own consciousness – is considered by some to be our inevitable destination. HAL 9000 refused to open the pod bay door for Dave in “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). His succinct “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that” resounds today in popular culture. In “A.I.” (2001), perfect child (robot) David is forced to fend for himself in a cruel world, seemingly figuring out things for himself. “Moon” (2009) features an astronaut, his clone (or is it him?) and a talkative computer buddy who expresses her mood with a smiley-face, frowny-face or poker-face.
In “Ex Machina’s” (2015), A.I. Ava (Alicia Vikander) is a seductive, warm robot (albeit with a transparent mid-body). She is to be used in a test involving computer coder Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson).
Caleb won a competition in which he was rewarded with a week at the luxurious mountain estate of his company’s owner, Nathan (Oscar Isaac). That is what Caeb believes.
When Caleb arrives, however, he learns he is the human component of a Turing Test – a test to determine whether a robot in fact thinks. (Those of you who have seen “The Imitation Game” (2014) were introduced to the a film centered on Alan Turing, the man who was instrumental in breaking the German’s coded messages during World War II.)
The experiment involves Caleb interacting with the breathtaking Ava. He is supposed to determine the extent of Ava’s ability to interact with him as human would.
Nathan has set up Caleb. This test is to learn whether his invention indeed has her own consciousness. Can Ava move beyond artificial intelligence to a level of independent thoughts and emotional sensibilities?
Caleb is an innocent brilliant man, vulnerable to the seductive spirit (if you will) of Ava. Torn between his intellect and his heart, he admits: “I feel…that she is amazing.” But Nathan taunts, “Does Ava actually like you, or is she just pretending to like you?”
Who can Caleb trust? He challenges both Ava and Nathan, looking for truth.
This cat-and-mouse film is the directorial debut of British writer Alex Garland, who wrote the story and then the screenplay for “Ex Machina.” Garland has written screenplays (“28 Days Later,” “Sunshine”) and novels (“The Beach” and “The Tesseract.”). “Ex Machina” is a thoughtful film about a profound subject. What is human consciousness? Where is the line drawn between artificial intelligence and human emotions and thoughts?
Released in mid-April, “Ex Machina” is currently screening in the Albuquerque region at Century 14 Downtown, Century Rio 24 Plex and XD, UA High Ridge 8, UA Cottonwood Stadium 16, and Premiere Cinema 14. This sparse, complex and visually stunning film is a great beginning of Garland’s directorial efforts.
Sources: “Ex Machina” press kit , IMDb