Nathan (Oscar Isaac) is the ultra-rich, eccentric, and reclusive founder and CEO of a Google-like corporation. He lives on a vast, isolated estate, accompanied only by a solitary servant who speaks no English. Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), one of his many employees, wins a week hanging out with the CEO. Or so he thinks.
In fact, Nathan has built an artificial intelligence, a robot in the form of a young woman, based on his company’s vast database of information about people. Nathan has brought in Caleb to interact with Ava (Alicia Vikander) and decide if she’s really conscious.
A lot of what follows is predictable, but there are surprises as well, and that applies both to the plot and the questions raised. The cinematography and direction are very much in the style of Kubrick, and according to writer-director Alex Garland, Kubrick was also one of his inspirations for the character of Nathan, the inventor.
Garland’s direction is quite good, especially for a first-time director. His background is in writing, novels as well as screenplays. The cinematography, acting, and visual effects are excellent.