Film review: Ex Machina (15, 108 mins) Thriller/Sci-Fi/Romance.

Ex Machina: Alicia Vikander as Ava
Ex Machina: Alicia Vikander as Ava

A vice-like grip on humanity

For his bravura directorial debut, London-born author and screenwriter Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later) explores mankind’s unquenchable desire to give birth to sophisticated automata that learns from its mistakes.

Ex Machina is a deeply disturbing thriller that explores the murky moral ramifications of creating a robot that could pass for human.

Nathan (Domhnall Gleeson) is a talented computer programmer at a hi-tech firm run by the enigmatic Caleb (Oscar Isaac). Out of the blue, Nathan wins a weekend at the CEO’s remote island retreat and journeys to the lush paradise in a private helicopter. At the compound entrance, Nathan is issued with a security pass that he must carry at all times. Inside, he learns that he has been hand-picked by Caleb to take part in a ground-breaking experiment: to interrogate a functioning artificial intelligence prototype called Ava (Alicia Vikander).

Very quickly, Nathan grows emotionally attached to Ava and he is distressed when she warns him not to trust Caleb, who will, by necessity, be scrapped to make way for a newer model.

Ex Machina exerts a vice-like grip on our attention, anchored by riveting performances from the central trio.

Star rating: 8/10