lex Garland’s directorial debut is a brilliantly realised slice of sci-fi about what makes us human. Oscar Isaac plays Nathan, the billionaire CEO of a tech company who wrote the code for his Bluebook search engine as a child.
When one of his employees, super-nerd Caleb, wins a week at his boss’s high-security bunker home deep in the mountains, Nathan uses it as an opportunity to test his new invention: Eva, the physical incarnation of his latest AI software. Can she pass the Turing Test even when the examiner knows she’s a robot?
While Caleb is something of an off-the-shelf geek, Nathan is a cross between Mark Zuckerberg and a Bond villain. One minute he’s
Asweating out a hangover and dancing with his live-in maid like a #LAD Steve Jobs, the next he’s intimidating Caleb from his concrete-walled lair.
The interactions between Eva and Caleb could easily have become tedious interviews but Garland infuses them with flirtatious humanity. Much like Joaquin Phoenix’s character in Her, Caleb finds a lot to like in his artificial companion, with some incredible make-up and special effects making her equally appealing and believable to the audience. And that’s what makes the denouement of Ex Machina all the more shocking.