Read

ACMI Re/commends: Devs

Scroll to content

Garry Westmore (Producer, School Programs) explores the first season of Alex Garland's intriguing and visually engaging sci fi thriller.

Although fans of Alex Garland’s highbrow work will dive easily into the world of Devs, the writer/director’s first TV project might struggle to win over anyone who found Ex Machina (2014) weird or Annihilation (2018) frustrating. Luckily, Devs sits somewhere between those two films and shares certain elements, including a seemingly harmless tech company headed by an eccentric but disarming CEO and a young woman drawn into a mystery that could irrevocably change humanity. Your usual low stakes stuff, really.

When Lily’s (Sonoya Mizuno) boyfriend and colleague Sergei (Karl Glusman) goes missing she discovers that Amaya, the San Francisco based tech company they both work for, and its CEO Forrest (Nick Offerman) aren’t as harmless as they appear.

From the synopsis it sounds like a run-of-the-mill mystery that takes a swipe at the insidious nature of Silicon Valley tech companies. Yet the how and why of Sergei’s disappearance is given up in the very first episode, and the other mystery of “what is Devs?” (the secretive department of Amaya that Sergei was working for) is also answered quite quickly. This is so Garland can get to the heart of what the series is really about: determinism and the possibilities of quantum computing.

Devs is certainly intriguing and beautifully made, but it is flawed, as can be expected from an author turned screenwriter (he wrote The Beach, guys!!) turned writer-director experimenting with visual styles and storytelling while expanding upon themes in his wheelhouse. Even the unpredictability of the score and soundtrack demonstrate Garland’s zest for trying new and unusual things. It’s not your standard premium-drama fare. Regardless of any shortcomings, Devs is intensely interesting.

You can watch Devs on Foxtel Now.


Our staff always have one eye on a screen. Find out what else we're watching and playing with ACMI Re/commends.