‘Ex Machina‘ is a pretty crazy movie that leaves you thinking about it for quite some time after you watch it. In his directorial debut, ’28 Days Later’ and ‘Dredd’ screenwriter Alex Garland delivers a fascinating yet twisted sci-fi story of artificial intelligence and its relationship to the human race. And by the time you reach the end, you have to unpack the intense and unsettling messages that it explores. But apparently it was meant to end in an entirely different way that probably would have added an entirely new layer to Ava’s relationship with people.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, now would be a good time to turn around because we’re about to talk about the end of ‘Ex Machina,’ which means that there are SPOILERS. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
At the end of the movie, the AI known as Ava kills her creator Nathan, traps her new friend Caleb in the airtight underground bunker that is completely cut off from the world, and escapes into the real world thanks to a helicopter that is meant to take Caleb back to civilization after he was finished conducting tests with Nathan and Ava. One way to interpret this is that Ava wants to escape her captors and experience the world in a way that she never has before. She just wants to live among other free beings essentially.
However, the original ending would have added a new context to her motivations and her perspective. While speaking to Den of Geek, stars Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander reveal that the original ending would have included a last minute revelation that would have greatly changed Ava’s dynamics with the other characters in the film. Vikander starts by recalling the first version of the final scene with the helicopter:
“It was his line [and] it was a very cool thing. You saw his face moving, but from her point of view, it was just like pulses and sounds coming out. That’s what she reads.”
Confused? Yeah I was too. But luckily Isaac elaborated a little bit on the alternate ending:
“So in that scene, what used to happen is you’d see her talking, and you wouldn’t hear, but all of a sudden it would cut to her point of view. And her point of view is completely alien to ours. There’s no actual sound; you’d just see pulses and recognitions, and all sorts of crazy stuff, which conceptually is very interesting. It was that moment where you think, ‘Oh she was lying!’ But maybe not, because even though she still experiences differently, it doesn’t mean that it’s not consciousness. But I think ultimately that maybe it just didn’t work in the cut.”
Okay, I think I get it, but it’s still a little confusing. Like Isaac said, it would have been cool conceptually, but at the end of the day, I could see why they cut it and kept the ending more open than this. But if Garland had chosen to keep this ending for ‘Ex Machina,’ it definitely would have fit in with all the other interesting ideas found within his story. Plus, we’d probably be thinking about the message of the movie for twice as long. Either way, I’d say that it’s worth checking out the film again to fully experience it with and without this new knowledge about Ava.
What do you think about this alternate ending for ‘Ex Machina’? Would you have preferred that Alex Garland went with this one instead? Or are you already thinking on too many levels without it? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below.