Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW
Synopsis: When Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), an artificial intelligence researcher, dies, his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) uploads his mind into a computer to try and keep him alive. However, once will is uploaded, it seems like he has had a change of character.
Review: Transcendence is one of those films that sounds good enough on paper. The film has a great premise, trying to keep a loved one alive by putting his mind on a computer to keep him alive. The film has a stellar cast in Depp, Hall, Morgan Freeman, and Paul Bettany. The director, Wally Pfister, has been Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer for years. Nolan is even an Executive Producer on the film. But somehow, all these pieces didn’t equal a good film.
The film starts off in the near future where Max Waters (Bettany) talks about how all technology has been shut down. We then flash back five years to when the problems started. A group against artificial research, R.I.F.T. has set off bombs in research facilities and shot Dr. Caster during a seminar. The bullet just grazed him, but was laced with radioactive chemicals that will kill him in a few weeks. To try and save him, Evelyn and Max upload his brain into a computer to keep him alive.
Once the program works, Evelyn gets consumed by the program as Will continues to try and evolve and “change the world”. R.I.F.T. also tries to stop Will, led by Bree (Kate Mara) who kidnaps Max later in the film. It is at this point in the movie that Will is able to heal people, plants, and objects with nanotechnology multiplying and able to regenerate cells faster. Max sees the destruction that Will is causing and enlists the help of Joseph Tagger (Freeman) and FBI Agent Donald Buchanan (Cillian Murphy).
The film is a mess after this. Numerous plot holes open up and ends back five years later at Dr. Caster’s house. Most of the budget of the film probably was spent on the visual aspect of Transcendence, which was quite good, but no one probably spent a dime on script revisions when they were needed.
Now, most people say Johnny Depp has been in a slump lately. Both The Lone Ranger and Dark Shadows failed to make much money, making people wonder if Depp was still the A-list star he has been in the early part of the decade. But the failure of the film doesn’t really lay on him. Depp actually acted pretty well, and was pretty normal for this film.
The technology geek in some of you will make you want to see the film, and that’s fine. But don’t waste $8-$15 on seeing the movie in theaters. The science element gets too muddled and too far-fetched to even make sense after certain points. Transcendence had all the makings of a great movie, but somehow lost its way, much like Dr. Will Caster himself.
Final Grade: 5.0/10