Directed by Alex Garland
Cast: Domhal Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
"Ex Machina," the directorial debut by novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland ("28 Days Later," "Sunshine"), is a rare and welcome exception to that norm. It starts out as an ominous thriller about a young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) orbiting a charismatic Dr. Frankenstein-type (Oscar Isaac) and slowly learning that the scientist's quest to create artificial intelligence has a troubling, even sickening personal agenda. But even as the revelations pile up and the screws tighten and you start to sense that terror and violence are inevitable, the movie never loses grip on what it's about; this is a rare commercial film in which every scene, sequence, composition and line deepens the screenplay's themes, which means that when the bloody ending arrives, it seems less predictable than inevitable and right.