Transcendence does strive for something transcendent with its big ideas, but a poorly written screenplay, bland direction and misused characters doesn’t make it the intelligent and engaging blockbuster flick that it aspires to be.
Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence.
It started interesting enough posting good questions: what if someone finally bridged the gap between humanity and technology? if an artificial man made intelligence can be self-aware and capable of human emotion, what does that say about us? Do we really have a soul? what if someone transcends his human limits to play God and tinker with nature?
Unfortunately, the film spends more time on cinematic shots rather than fleshing its ideas (Edit: I would love to to diss the details, but it would be spoilerrific). The nonsensical script is filled with plot holes and betrays its own logic. The action scenes look like low budget sequences ripped off from a B movie.
The characters are merely puppets that suddenly flip motivations and change alliances. Johnny Depp phoned it in. Paul Bethany and Rebecca Hall tried but the movie is dull. Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy spends most of their time standing around. Kate Mara is underused as the anti-tech terrorist leader.
Towards the end the movie goes further down the rabbit hole and finishes with a cheesy moment that if you think about it, doesn’t make any sense.
Transcendence looked promising and does have traces of what could have been a good movie at the hands of a better screen writer and director. But ultimately, its own transcendence is weighed down by a limited narrative. It’s not intelligent, engaging, and even a serviceable blockbuster flick.
My Rating: 4/10