To erase the line between man and machine is to obscure the line between men and gods

It’s not often that we get the opportunity to watch a film that is both visually and intellectually stimulating that also has an engaging story. Ex Machina is a beautiful testament to independent filmmaking and the harmony it can bring.

Caleb Smith, played by Domhnall Gleeson, is a talented programmer at a mega-internet company that borders on a monopolistic power of the industry. Caleb wins a corporate lottery allowing him to spend a week at the company CEO’s private estate, played by Oscar Isaac. Caleb swiftly realizes this trip may have more components than initially anticipated and has been chosen to be a component of an AI test of a robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) to see if her consciousness is indetectably human.

When it comes to science fiction films that delve into the realm of artificial intelligence, there is always an ominous component. The ramifications of playing God, creating consciousness, the one thing that distinguishes humans from other animals, is unnerving and unnatural. Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, which he writes and directs, plays into this fear almost immediately, with odd glances and contextual cinematography, cinematic breadcrumbs for the attentive audience member.

There are complicated themes within the film itself, proposing potentially perilous questions of ethics, love, intelligence, technology and humanity. For the less discerning viewer, Ex Machina has within itself beautiful and simplistic storytelling where Garland strips back his film to the basics of a mystery, refusing to explain anything yielding an engaging experience until the very end, which is shocking in its boldness.

Ex Machina is a compelling film with strong performances by its three leads and the caliber of film audiences should be privy to constantly. Cerebral and cinematic, it accomplishes all that it intends brilliantly and is a film you will be happy you spent your time watching.