The battle with machines will take place with a female machine playing head games on Domhnall Gleeson, who does have much luck being around women in science fiction movies. (See his role in Dredd, I’m not kidding.) Instead of Alicia Vikander appearing naked in a Los Angeles alley to hunt for Sarah Conner (the movie many men wanted to see) she’s created by Oscar Isaac who plays Nathan, a character that’s the obvious offspring of a Bill Gate/Steve Jobs/Zach Galifianakis ménage à trois. It’s not a balls to the wall action movie or one thick with drama. It’s a very level headed, quietly toned slow burn which seems to be an attempt at a think piece rather than a science fiction movie.
I know science fiction is regarded as the genre to make us think, using wild science concepts in place of real world events. If you’re talking 2001: A Space Odyssey, or even Dark City I can get that. However the devil is in the details and the details of this movie is about basic story telling structure. By that I mean a beginning a middle and the end. If this is trying to be about “do computer’s think” than the murder in the movie doesn’t make sense. At first the movie goes out of it’s way to question the nature of life and what it is to be human. Interesting considering the plot of the movie is that Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is to test to see if Nathan has achieved artificial intelligence.
Nathan is a bit of a puzzle too. On the one hand he has a genuine fear of his invention escaping and what it could mean for the world. On the other he’s a creepy drunk with a closet full of sex toys which he uses at his whim. And when I say sex toys, I mean other female robot with full anatomy and programed to be every sexist dream of the obedient woman. It is not made clear it Nathan takes Ava (Alicia Vikander) into the bed either. This is not implied directly, but you imagine if he’s using all the other designs for that, why not the one he thinks of as his best creation. It is made clear that Ava hates Nathan because she says it in a a “look at me, I’m going to call back to this again” scene.
Hence my issues with the movie. It was most certainly well acted and the director, Alex Garland, clearly thought out his vision for what he wanted the movie to be. But there’s too many things that either contradict each other or just doesn’t give enough explanation. The way Ava treated Caleb at the end made no sense. If her hatred was for Nathan, why do that to Caleb? If she wanted to use Caleb wouldn’t he be more useful by her side. Someone who knows what she is and could repair her if needed, or at least get her spare parts? I’m not saying that had to get all Game of Thrones on things, but if Caleb is abusing Ava, show it. Why does she just hate him? Because he keeps her prisoner? Because he abuses her? Because he uses her for sex? There’s one scene that implies it but the very next scene changes it by saying what we saw was more for Caleb’s benefit. And why Caleb in the first place? Basil Exposition showed up to try to give it an explanation, but I still went away more confused than the general audience after seeing Interstellar.
The most unforgivable things was the house. It was the cliched house run completely by computers that fuck up because someone fucks up the computer. Hasn’t Caleb seen any movie in the last 30 years? That kind of building has proved to be a bad idea since Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Who wouldn’t build in a manual control in case the computers running the house screws up?
Over all this was a very good movie but there were too many things left unexplained to make it a great movie for me. They went beyond the “leave to your imagination” because the basic plot structure was very straight forward. With a few more tweaks this could have been a great movie for me, but as it stand it’s just good enough to suggest you catch it on cable or borrow it from the last guy who owns Blu Ray disks in a digital world.