Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Ex Machina (2015)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Ex Machina (2015, UK)

In director Alex Garland's dramatic sci-fi tale (his directorial debut film) - it was a cerebral thriller about artificial intelligence; the sci-fi thriller asked the question: "What constitutes true artificial intelligence?" The story involved a love triangle with only three speaking characters.

The visually-rich plot contained elements of Frankenstein, Fritz Lang's Maria robot in Metropolis (1927), the Prometheus myth, the Bluebeard tale, the Bible (names of the main characters) and even a 1969 Star Trek TV episode entitled "Requiem for Methuselah." The film also had a 6-7 day timeline, familiar to the Biblical act of creation and the Garden of Eden story - and a climax in which the Creator was killed by his Creation. The film's makers took their inspiration for their robots from sculptures by Brancusi, modernist Bauhaus sculptures, Formula One Suspension, and high-end concept bicycles - and they also studied human anatomy.

  • in the story, brilliant mid-20s programmer-coder Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) had won a company-wide lottery contest at his high-tech work place - the popular search engine company Blue Book (a hybrid of Google and Facebook). He was awarded a one-week visit at the isolated, luxurious mountain home - a "research facility" (with walls of glass) in Alaska of reclusive, eccentric, hard-drinking and rich CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac); the CEO was studying artificial intelligence; Nathan called his project "the greatest scientific event in the history of man"
  • the secluded, ultra-modern home was solely attended by only one other person - the unspeaking Japanese house servant Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) (spoiler - later revealed to be an android)
  • Bateman instructed Smith to conduct research by administering the Turing test to one of his completely life-like, newly-created inventions - a beautiful, charming, walking, talking, and expressive, intelligent female humanoid robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) with artificial intelligence
  • Ava was a marvelous, realistic F/X creation, composed of encased circuitry within a metal skeleton and human face/hands/feet. She had see-through limbs, a chrome-domed cranium, and a glowing, see-through midriff power-core
  • the test would determine her mental, emotional and intuitive capabilities - her humanity and consciousness ("the challenge is to show you that she's a robot, and then see if you still feel she has consciousness"); in other words, 'How do we know when true artificial intelligence (AI) has been achieved?'
  • she would pass the historic research test if Caleb forgot that she was a sentient being (and wasn't human) during their daily sessions: "Ava was a rat in a maze, and I gave her one way out. To escape, she'd have to use self-awareness, imagination, manipulation, sexuality, empathy, and she did. Now if that isn't true A.I., what the f--k is?"
  • as the tale progressed and during conversations with the very realistic Ava in her isolated cell, Ava - during a brief power outage that interfered with closed-circuit TV feeds, was able to convince Caleb that she was being confined and abused; he also began to have infatuated romantic feelings for her; Ava warned that Caleb should not trust his host Nathan, who was prone to hard-drinking and erratic behavior
  • it was revealed that Kyoko was also a robotic humanoid, possibly a failed test robot; she peeled back parts of her skin to demonstrate to Caleb that she was actually not human, but robotic like Ava
  • Nathan had a hidden agenda and ulterior motives - he wanted to become god and control his Modern Prometheus - and had summoned Caleb to see if Ava was human-like enough to persuade Caleb to be deceived into helping her escape from the confines (Ava knew of the deception and told Caleb: "You shouldn't trust me, you shouldn't trust anything he [Nathan] says")
  • normally, during one of Ava's induced power-outage blackouts, the surveillance systems would all shut down, and all of the doors would automatically lock
  • during an escape attempt in which Caleb aided Ava's efforts to leave by reprogramming the security system, Ava ordered Kyoko to lethally stab Nathan; in the struggle before Nathan was knifed in the back by Kyoko, Ava's left hand was cut off by him. Nathan then disfigured Kyoko with a blow to the jaw and disabled her. Ava removed the knife from Nathan's back and stabbed him in the chest, and shortly later, he bled out and slumped dead to the floor
  • victorious but needing to repair herself from Nathan's damage, in a mirrored dressing room with storage cabinets, Ava borrowed body flesh and components mostly from the stored, deprogrammed remains of older android prototype Jade (Gana Bayarsaikhan) to create a new, undamaged fleshly exterior. She stood to admire herself with naked flesh in a mirror
  • in the thrilling conclusion, the manipulative ex-machina Ava was plotting an escape into the outside world - evidence of her true and highly-advanced intelligence
  • after glancing at a painting of a woman in a white dress with brown hair, Ava dressed herself to resemble her as a real human woman - wearing a wig and a white dress with high-heeled shoes; she took one last look at Caleb, and fled from the facility in a helicopter (arriving to pick up Caleb); she basically ignored Caleb who was left imprisoned and locked inside a room in the facility to die of starvation? (although potentially able to escape if he could recode the lockdown procedure and create a power outage)

Last Image of Ava Before Disappearing on Street
Ava Locking Caleb Up Before Leaving
  • Ava had indeed proven that she had been emotionally manipulating Caleb (as Nathan had predicted) so he would facilitate her escape Ava slipped into a crowd on a busy street (figures were seen in shadowy silhouettes), and then disappeared imperceptibly to mingle with humanity

Humanoid Robot Ava (Alicia Vikander)

Ava and Caleb During Research Sessions

Kyoko Revealing Her Robotic Nature

Ava and Kyoko Confronting Nathan

Nathan Stabbed in the Back by Kyoko

One Last Look at Caleb


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