Nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in the 2016 Academy Awards, Alicia Vikander stuns in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina.
Ex Machina is a stirring and stimulating piece of science fiction dynamite. The 2015 movie was also written by the filmmaker and came from the germ of an idea he had when he was a boy. The notion took hold when Garland was working on 2012’s Dredd and sprang into the full-blooded, claustrophobic thriller that is Ex Machina.
In many ways, this is small sci-fi. The ideas are big and dangerous, of course, but the budget is on the small side and the special effects are actually rather lean. Garland insisted on shooting traditionally, in fact, and added the effects shots in post-production. That gives Ex Machina an almost defiant flexibility, which sets it apart from many other genre movies.
Ex Machina is resourceful, unnerving filmmaking. It is “from the machine,” yet it impels with a thumping heart that focuses on relationships rather than artificial cinematic tricks. It presents four characters locked in a glass cage of beliefs and hopes, with opportunities blinking like crosswalk lights just above the treeline.