Have You Hugged Your Robot Today?
By Skip Sheffield
If robots were to reach a technological level that they seemed human, could a mortal human being fall in love with one?
That’s the basic quandary of “Ex Machina,” a stylish science-fiction movie written and directed by Alex Garland (“28 Days After,” “Sunshine”). The not-so-secret weapon of this intriguing movie is 26-year-old Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who plays an artificial intelligence (AI) robot named Ava.
Ms. Vikander is breathtakingly beautiful even when suited up as a robot with bald skullcap, visible wires, electrodes and cathodes winking and bleeping away. My prediction is that this movie will propel Alicia Vikander to stardom as “Gone Girl” did for Rosamund Pike.
There are only three lead roles and one supporting cast in this far-out fable, set in some high-security lair perched in a gorgeous, mountainous region unspecified. In addition to Vikander’s Ava there is Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the secretive and enigmatic creator of Ava and fabulously wealthy owner of the posh laboratory/pad where she lives.
Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is a young tech wizard and employee of Bluebook, “the world’s most popular Internet search engine” created by Nathan at age 13. Caleb, a 26-year-old coder, entered a competition to win a week at Nathan’s private resort. He won, and he was helicoptered in under great secrecy to Nathan’s high-tech Land of Oz.
Once ensconced in his windowless room in the ultra-high security facility, Caleb is told by Nathan he is to interact with Ava while being observed.
Interact Caleb does, and so does Ava. Conveniently, Nathan’s getaway is subject to intermittent power outages when the all-seeing security cameras go dark and mute. During one of these outages Ava warns Caleb not to trust Nathan.
To spice things up, Nathan has a pretty Asian housekeeper and helper named Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), who may be more than just a helpmate. This is apparent when Caleb witnesses Nathan in an erotic dance with Kyoko.
Oh, and Nathan casually mentions Ava is equipped to fulfill a man sexually, and will feel good vibes in return.
“Ex Machina” is a big step beyond 2013’s “Her,” in which Joaquin Phoenix fell in love with the seductive voice of Scarlett Johansson, playing a computer that fulfilled his every desire. With this movie we get the visuals as well as the audios. With computer technology advancing as fast as it is, “Ex Machina” may not be all that far-fetched.