A24 films continues its leadership among independent film with Ex Machina, a thoroughly engrossing psychological sci-fi drama. Taking Her and adding a physical dimension to ultra-humanlike AI did not quite reach Her heights, nor does probing Under the Skin attain that lofty plateau. As good as Ex Machina is, it doesn’t push the envelope of machine-human interaction in the way it might have.
So, driving home, I thought “it’s a solid 8.” That one could consider it the double episode Star Trek always wanted to muster but never quite could. That it worked as pure psychological drama, like a good Mamet film. That we are dealing with a robot is almost beside the point, and that nothing fresh was brought to bear on the ever-more-explored theme of AI.
But my mind kept buzzing about Ex Machina into the night, giving me fits when trying to fall asleep. That kind of resonance is always a good thing. I still think the same basic story could have been set 1000 years ago — i.e. without the sci-fi elements. But what’s undeniable is the powerful dramatic story at hand, a beautifully constructed, masterfully played chess game. 9/10