“Ex Machina” & “The Usual Suspects” BMAC Double Feature Review!

Lazy, rainy Sundays are only good for one thing: Watching as many movies as humanly possible. Amid a trip to church and a visit from the grandparents, I was delighted to find Ex Machina available for streaming on Amazon and The Usual Suspects available for streaming on Netflix. Let’s start with a review of the 2015 “Movie Of The Year” contender, Ex Machina.

Ex Machina was, in several ways, a cinematic gem. The film’s overall concept, robots/artificial intelligence developing their own “conscience,” fascinates me. On first glance, however, I thought the Ex Machina storyline fell flat. I wasn’t impressed by anything that was happening and, to be honest, I was somewhat expecting the few “Oh, sh*t!” film twists that occur throughout the film. I’m going to do you the favor of NOT spoiling anything in this review, but let’s just say if you watch Ex Machina with a critical view, you can guess what’s going on, what’s going to happen, and how the film is going to end. At least that’s how it was for me. Having said that, however, if one were to delve deeper into Ex Machina and the underlying metaphors, and meanings, and messages that may be present (the three big “M’s” of storytelling, right?), the “79/100” score I was going to give Ex Machina quickly jumps to a “84/100” (no, not a HUGE jump, but bear with me for a second here). Perhaps this is a Room 237 situation where I’m getting way too caught up in the details and taking a theory and running with it beyond what was ever even intended by the film’s director… yes, kind of like how Jim Carrey sees the number “23” everywhere he goes because he’s specifically looking for it (watch the underrated film 23 and you’ll see what I mean), but, either way, I thought the combination of human-like features (Ava, the main robot, and her face) with 22nd century-like robotics (the rest of Ava’s body) was pretty sweet. I mean if you take this a step further, you can understand the irony: a 21st century film that creates a robot that is literally half human (an actor) and half computer (the CGI). See the irony here? See the deeper meanings/metaphors/messages? Or is that not ironic/more meaningful at all? I don’t know. In all honesty, the more I think about Ex Machina the more confused I get. Was it a masterpiece or was it just so-so? It’ll probably take another viewing for me to be able to answer that question. For now, it has my stamp of approval for “worth the watch.”
Let’s move on to the supposed 1995 “smash-hit,” The Usual Suspects. An iconic film with a legendary cast ensemble. Call me crazy – and I didn’t know if it’s just my over-analytical film buff mind at this point or just coincidence at this point – but I felt like I knew the double plot twist ending to this one as well! Again, I promise not to spoil anything here, but the first “twist” wasn’t all that amazing. If you’re watching the film and you’re analyzing the film’s characters, you’ll notice what the film is blatantly trying to show you. Luckily, however, you have the second plot twist that actually shatters the first one. I’ll be honest: yes, the second plot “twist,” did “get me,” but it was kind of like an “Oh, that makes sense *shrug*” kind of moment and not a “OH, SH*T! WHAT THE F*CK?!” moment (there’s only a few films that have ever provided for me the latter). Having said all that it’s still a fantastic and classic movie, please do not get me wrong, but, like Ex Machina, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting from all the hype I’ve heard all these years.
Maybe I just had a movie “off day” where even Saving Private Ryan wouldn’t have impressed me, but I still think I was expecting to receive more viewer satisfaction from Ex Machina and The Usual Suspects than I did. Both films, especially The Usual Suspects probably get better and better the more times you watch it, so I will give them both the benefit of the doubt in that respect, and come back to them again for review at a later date. Until then, give them both a watch, they’re solid movies, just don’t expect to be blown away.
Ex Machina BMAC Rating: 84/100
The Usual Suspects BMAC Rating: 88/100
Photo Credit: Snagged from flickeringmyth.com

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