Ahead be spoilers. You were warned.
I’m not going to go in-depth into Ex Machina. I enjoyed the movie, and I was pleased both by the fact that it wasn’t predictable and that I was able to see some things coming. But a couple of things happened that threw me off, and those I’d like to share.
I THOUGHT THE ROBOTS WERE RUNNING THE SHOW. The premise of the film is that a programmer, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), is selected to spend a week with the brilliant tech billionaire, Nathan, who owns the company he works for. When they meet, Nathan (Oscar Isaac) explains this will be more than just a week hanging out. Nathan wants Caleb to interact with his new AI, to perform the Turing Test, which is an attempt to determine whether artificial intelligence can fool a human into believing that the AI is also human. Early on, it becomes apparent that Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) is an AI herself. Kyoko never speaks and allegedly doesn’t understand English, but slowly it becomes apparent that she does have a certain level of awareness about what’s going on around her and her own creation. At one point while watching Kyoko, a light clicked on in my head: Nathan isn’t running the experiment. The AI are. And, for a while, it looked like the might be the case. It wasn’t, but it’s just one example of how Ex Machina mind fucks you to the point where you’re no longer entirely sure what is reality.
THE FINAL CUT. The audience isn’t the only one being screwed with. As days pass, Caleb starts getting sucked further and further in to Nathan’s ego trip and his interactions with the AI, Ava (Alicia Vikander). His head gets so twisted that he’s not sure who or what to believe, to the point where he takes a razor and cuts open his own arm, to make sure he is human. It was an eye-opening moment to me, as I hadn’t considered the idea that maybe Caleb was the AI being tested. Caleb bleeds red, but it was another moment that created doubt for viewers about the path Ex Machina was blazing.