Ex Machina


Alex Garland's debut feature is an arty, romantic and dystopian thriller Discuss this article

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Stephen Hawking has warned us that the growing power of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Technology has not yet reached the point where a robot has passed the Turing Test – fooling people into believing they’re talking to a human. But screenwriter and novelist Alex Garland’s debut feature takes us to the very moment of technological birth. What might it look like when we get there?

Pretty damn slinky as it happens. Domhnall Gleeson is Caleb, an ace computer programmer who wins a competition to visit the remote home of his Silicon Valley company’s charismatic billionaire founder (Oscar Isaac). Caleb’s task is to put his boss’ new invention through its paces: AVA, a robot whose glowing LEDs and whirring servos combine with a lithe feminine form and the angelic features of actress Alicia Vikander. Caleb isn’t just convinced, he’s smitten, but the more he learns about the relationship between AVA and her volatile creator, the more concerned he becomes for
her future.

There are elements of romance and dystopian thriller here, though Garland’s art-house pacing keeps us waiting for these threads to emerge, lining up thoughtful dialogue exchanges between man and machine. Vikander’s spellbinding, not-quite-human presence (her synthetic skin is silky yet creepy) keeps us watching. But an only-too-obvious ‘twist’ and some clunky plotting – how about those sudden power cuts! – drain much of the credibility from a story that promised so much. A bit more intelligence would not have gone amiss.

By Trevor Johnston
Time Out Doha,

Ex Machina

  • Duration: 108
  • Released: Thu, 26 Mar
  • Language: English
  • Director: Alex Garland
  • Stars: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

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