Director Bryan Singer helms a sprawling epic that’s merely cobbled together from familiar plot points and franchise curtain calls.
Ex Machina is a superior techno-thriller that asks a lot more questions than it’s willing to answer. Filmmakers have long exploited the dangers of artificial intelligence, but few have the courage to examine the hubris behind Man’s technological self-destruction. Alex Garland’s assured directorial debut showcases a patient filmmaker adept at world building. Like all good sci-fi films with big ideas and bold visuals, you’ll be thinking about Ex Machina long after you leave the theater.
I had a plan, I swear. In the days leading up to November 28th, me and a friend had negotiated the logistics of seeing a movie at one of the theatres listed on J.J.’s announcement—what to do if they’re sold out, what to do if for some reason we picked a movie that had no trailer in front of it (Plan B: sneak into the beginning of a different movie after ours ended)—all in the name of the purity of experiencing the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer as it was meant to be experienced. As a spectacle, as a special event, as a collective moment of excitement and anticipation.
Guilt is a powerful motivator. Its nagging voice can corrupt even the noblest of intentions. In the case of The Two Faces of January, a son’s guilt leads him into a questionable alliance in which he becomes inextricably trapped. There are twists and turns, jealousy and lust, but the real pleasure of a film like this is watching how far people will go to silence those nagging voices. Even if it means losing everything they care about.
Patricia Highsmith is one of those authors whose body of work the film industry just can’t stop panning for gold. The Two Faces of January is the latest adaptation of one of her books, and it ticks off most of the drinking game check marks we’ve come to expect from her stories: a vivid locale, desire that turns deadly, antagonists bound together by circumstance, numerous double-crosses, and a general mood of darkness in the soul. This is also the directorial debut of Hossein Amini, whose genre screenplays (Drive, Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin) have become a hot Hollywood commodity in recent years. With the help of a capable crew, Hossein has helmed a thoroughly capable film.