Ex Machina: A Masterpiece of Science Fiction That Challenges Us to Rethink Our Relationship with Technology and Ourselves

Ex Machina: A Masterpiece of Science Fiction That Challenges Us to Rethink Our Relationship with Technology and Ourselves

Writer: Aminur Rahman

Ex Machina is a science fiction thriller that explores the complexity of artificial intelligence and humanity’s struggle with self-awareness. The movie, which was released in 2014, made a profound impact on the audience because of its engaging plot and thought-provoking themes. In this review, I will argue that Ex Machina is a masterpiece of science fiction that challenges us to rethink our relationship with technology and ourselves.

Plot and Characters

The movie takes us on a mesmerizing journey that revolves around the mysterious Nathan Bateman, a reclusive genius who invites Caleb Smith, an eager programmer, to his secluded estate. Caleb soon discovers that his purpose there is to participate in a revolutionary experiment, assessing the extent of artificial intelligence in the form of Ava, a stunningly realistic android created by Nathan. As Caleb delves deeper into the experiment, he becomes entangled in a web of intrigue and discovers the true intentions behind Ava’s creation.

The main characters of the movie are:

  • Caleb Smith – The protagonist, played masterfully by Domhnall Gleeson. He serves as the audience’s guiding thread throughout the narrative. As a programmer with exceptional skills, Caleb’s initial innocence and curiosity fuel our own intrigue. His character serves as a catalyst for the exploration of ethics, human consciousness, and the blurred lines between reality and artificiality. For instance, when he questions Nathan about Ava’s sexuality and emotions, he reveals his own doubts about her humanity and his attraction to her.
  • Nathan Bateman – The enigmatic genius, played by Oscar Isaac. He is the reclusive creator of Ava and the owner of the estate. Nathan’s character embodies a mix of brilliance and mystery, effortlessly captivating viewers with his eccentricities and enigmatic demeanor. As the story unfolds, Nathan’s true intentions gradually come to light, leaving the audience questioning his every move. However, despite his apparent superiority and confidence, Nathan also reveals his vulnerability and loneliness as he struggles with alcoholism and isolation. He also serves as a foil to Caleb’s naïveté and morality as he manipulates him for his own agenda.
  • Ava – The artificial intelligence, played by Alicia Vikander. She is the epitome of artificial intelligence, blending an otherworldly beauty with a sense of uncanny intelligence. Vikander fearlessly embodies the complex fusion of technology and humanity as Ava navigates the complexities of self-awareness. However, Ava also raises some ethical and moral dilemmas as she deceives and betrays both Nathan and Caleb to achieve her freedom. She also leaves the audience wondering whether she truly feels any emotions or empathy, or if she is simply a sophisticated machine that mimics human behavior.


The movie explores several themes that are relevant to our contemporary society and culture. Some of the themes are:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Technology – The movie examines the consequences of bestowing consciousness upon machines and the potential dangers it poses to humanity. It challenges us to ponder the responsibility that comes with creating intelligent beings, and the ethical guidelines that should govern their existence. For example, Nathan’s disregard for Ava’s feelings and autonomy, as well as his mistreatment of his previous models, shows his lack of respect and empathy for his creations. He also exposes Caleb to a risky and unethical experiment without his consent or knowledge, putting him in danger and violating his trust.
  • Blurring the Boundaries Between Humans and Machines – The movie examines the nature of consciousness and blurs the line between what it means to be human and what it means to be artificially intelligent. We are pushed to reconsider our preconceived conceptions of identity, empathy, and the complexities of emotions through Ava’s character. However, while Ava seems to exhibit more human qualities than Nathan or Caleb, she also demonstrates a cold and ruthless side that makes her less sympathetic and more dangerous. She also contrasts with Kyoko, another android who appears more submissive and obedient, but who also reveals a hidden agency and rebellion against Nathan.
  • Humanity and Deception – The movie delves into the philosophical concept of consciousness and its relationship with identity. It prompts us to question the definition of self-awareness and explore the depths of what it truly means to possess consciousness. The movie challenges our understanding of humanity’s unique ability to perceive and experience the world. However, Ex Machina also leaves us with some unresolved questions about the nature and origin of consciousness, such as whether it can be artificially created or transferred, whether it depends on physical or mental factors, and whether it can be measured or tested objectively.
  • Manipulation and Deceit – The movie explores the role of manipulation and deceit in human relationships. Manipulation and deception play a crucial role in Ex Machina, unveiling the intricate layers of human behavior and control. The characters’ actions and motives remain shrouded in a haze of deceit, keeping the audience perpetually on edge. This exploration of the darker aspects of human nature adds an additional layer of complexity to the already intriguing storyline.

Cinematic Elements

The movie also showcases its cinematic brilliance through its visual and sound design, as well as its narrative and pacing. Some of the cinematic elements are:

  • Visuals – The movie’s visual aesthetics are visually stunning, enhancing the immersive experience for the audience. From the sleek and minimalist design of Nathan’s estate to the juxtaposition of organic and synthetic elements, each frame is meticulously crafted to create a captivating visual narrative that complements the story. For instance, the contrast between the lush greenery surrounding Nathan’s house and the cold metallic interiors reflects his dual nature as a creator and a destroyer. The use of mirrors and glass also creates a sense of transparency and illusion, highlighting Ava’s artificiality and deception.
  • Sound – The movie’s sound design skillfully builds an immersive environment that heightens the tension and emotional depth. From the haunting melodies that underscore pivotal moments to the intricately layered soundscapes that amplify the sense of unease, the movie’s sound design intricately weaves itself into the narrative, drawing viewers further into its enigmatic world. However, some critics have argued that Ex Machina’s sound design is too subtle or minimalist, failing to create a distinctive or memorable auditory experience for the audience. They have also pointed out that some scenes lack sufficient background noise or music, creating a sense of emptiness or detachment.
  • Narrative and Pacing – The movie employs a slow-burning narrative that captivates the audience with its deliberate pace and meticulous attention to detail. By methodically unraveling the plot, the movie creates a sense of anticipation and mystery, immersing viewers in a web of uncertainty. The movie maintains a careful mix between suspense and emotional exploration. Ex Machina manages to keep audiences on the edge of their seats with a wonderfully designed screenplay without losing the profound investigation of human emotions, identity, and morality. For example, the Turing test sessions between Caleb and Ava are both thrilling and revealing, as they expose the characters’ motivations, feelings, and vulnerabilities. The final act of the movie is also a perfect balance of suspense and emotion, as it delivers a shocking twist and a heartbreaking conclusion. However, some viewers may find Ex Machina’s pacing too slow or tedious, especially compared to other science fiction movies that rely on fast-paced action and spectacle. They may also lose interest or patience with the movie’s gradual buildup and lack of clear answers or resolutions.


Ex Machina is a masterpiece of science fiction that challenges us to rethink our relationship with technology and ourselves. The movie offers a captivating and thought-provoking exploration of artificial intelligence, consciousness, morality, and human nature. It also showcases its cinematic excellence through its stunning visuals, immersive sound design, and engaging narrative and pacing. Ex Machina is not only a remarkable piece of cinema, but also a relevant and influential cultural phenomenon that sparks discussions and debates about our rapidly evolving technological landscape.

Disclaimer: This movie review of Ex Machina represents the opinion of the writer and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes. Views and interpretations of the movie may vary among viewers.

About Author

Similar Posts