Caleb, a 24 year old coder at the world's largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.
This low-budget sci-fi movie is the directorial debut of Alex Garland, writer of “The Beach” and “28 Days”. It is a deceptively low-key film with just a few characters, and indeed could almost have been a play instead of a film.
What is impressive is that the way that the tension is gradually built up, as a computer programmer (Domhnall Fleeson) spends a week with his ultimate employer, a billionaire CEO of a future Google-like company, in a remote retreat.
Oscar Isaac is excellent as the eccentric, manipulative and vaguely threatening CEO, and ex ballet dancer Alicia Vikander shows she is not just a pretty waif. It quickly becomes clear that all is not what it seems as the young programmer is drawn into helping his CEO with his latest secret research project. It would be easy for such a movie to descend into a talking shop, but the director manages to ratchet up the tension skilfully as the plot twists and turns.
As with the best sic-fi films, Ex Machina manages to go beyond its cinematic boundaries and pose some larger questions to its audience.