By Tony Pinto
“Transcendence” is a movie that does not compute.
It’s a melting pot of big ideas that don’t get explained well enough and science-fiction buzzwords that try to make the movie sound smart.
It’s a movie about Will Caster played by Johnny Depp. Basically all you need to know is that he is a scientist working on artificial intelligence and that some people believe it’s a bad thing and they work for Revolutionary Independence From Technology (R.I.F.T.). It’s basically referred to as a terrorist organization throughout the film, which may or may not be accurate. They orchestrate massive attacks on artificial intelligence research labs, including one run by Joseph Tagger played by Morgan Freeman.
Will’s wife and research partner Evelyn, played by Rebecca Hall, becomes the main person in the movie pretty quickly after the attacks. While the attacks are going on Will’s giving a speech at Evolve The Future. During the speech, a man in the audience asks him if he is trying to create his own god. Will’s answer of “Isn’t that what mankind has always done?” is foreshadowing of what’s to come.
After his speech Will gets shot by a gunman. He survives the gunshot, but the bullets are laced with poison. He is given about a month to live and instead of just letting him die Evelyn, decides to hook him up to this super computer to upload his consciousness and it works. Now you only have like 90 minutes left.
The plot seems slow moving most of the time. Even during times when a lot of things are happening it seems like its dragging. It’s a two-hour movie that easily could of been 90 minutes, maybe even shorter, and you wouldn’t have lost much. Shortening the movie probably would have made it better, but not enough to make this a must-watch.
It’s a movie you may need to watch again to fully understand what exactly is going on in certain scenes. That’s most likely something you will not want to do because one watching is surely more of your time than this movie deserves.
This is the directorial debut of Wally Pfister who has been the cinematographer for most of Christopher Nolan’s films since 2000 including “Memento” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” It’s a movie that looks good as you would expect from him, but lacks any real substance from the story.
This is another movie that is banking on the star power of Johnny Depp, which is not a sure fire thing anymore. Most of his recent films have been box office flops. With that being said that leads to the question as to why he keeps getting placed in these blockbuster movies.
This is not a must-watch movie by any stretch of the imagination, even the most die-hard Johnny Depp fan should take a pass. If you want to see Depp or Freeman in a good movie go check out some of their older films like “Edward Scissorhands” or “Invictus” respectively.
Tony Pinto’s grade: D