Ex Machina

Alex Garland (2015)

Last Featured: July 19, 2016

Image Credits: Universal Pictures International

In this sci-fi indie from director Alex Garland, computer programmer Caleb finds himself trapped in an experiment to discover whether an artificially intelligent humanoid can pass the Turing Test. 

In Spike Jones’s Her, we saw Joaquin Phoenix fall in love with Samantha, an artificially intelligent operating system that exists within his computer. Two years later, Alex Garland’s thriller Ex Machina takes this premise further by giving artificial intelligence both functional sensuality and physical beauty—a dangerous combination for a lonely, young programmer. 

Caleb has won the exciting chance to participate in a secretive and isolated project with his brilliant boss, Nathan, a man of limitless wealth and intelligence. Caleb soon finds himself trapped in an experiment to discover whether Nathan’s A.I. can pass the Turing Test. Is Ava a dynamically thinking being whose thoughts can evolve towards a purpose? Or is she just another computer program?

As the experiment progresses, complications surface. Caleb finds Ava exceptionally alluring, and the intrigue mounts when we discover that she has been designed to embody his specific desires. Ava eventually passes the test—a cold victory for Nathan—but Caleb grows increasingly anxious about keeping Ava imprisoned. As Ava continues to entice the bait that she was designed for, tensions rise between Nathan and Caleb. 

What could possibly go wrong?