In a nutshell... A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking humanoid A.I.
Science Fiction that takes place far in the future or that involves aliens and space travel rarely engages me fully. Ex Machina is a good example of the genre that approximates the here and now, playing on our fear of what might happen in our lifetime. Like so many Sci-Fi films, it shows how artificial intelligence and online surveillance might threaten us. More interestingly, the movie explores our anxieties about the authenticity of human interaction and the real motivations of others. Human weakness, corporate power and gender politics all feature in the conflict between the main characters.
The way a Sci-Fi movie treats social and philosophical issues is more important than its speculative depiction of technology. In my view Ex Machina does this better than most.
Director Alex Garland succeeds in building suspense throughout Ex Machina with a growing sense of threat, punctuated by well-timed bursts of action. He also provides occasional, temporary relief from the tension with moments that are as entertaining as they are disturbing.
You always wonder why creators of artificially intelligent machines in Sci-Fi never build in an OFF button.