Johnny Depp stars as Artificial Intelligence Researcher Will Caster in Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, a film that tries to tackle at its core the risks of man’s continued attempts to become God. Hence, it is ironical that a movie about the “line that needs to be drawn” doesn’t itself know when to stop from showing us glimpses of the question that it can raise and actually raise a question and goddamn answer it.
When Will is shot with a radioactive bullet that’s eating him gradually in the insides, he decides to perform a path-breaking experiment on himself that will enable him to upload his mind onto a computer. The gamble pays off and he survives through the machine. Fearing for their lives from the extremist group “Unplug” that’s actively trying to stop a “Her-meets-20001: A Space Odyssey” kind of a dystopia, Will’s wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) moves him to the Internet (that’s one sentence I never thought I would say). Will is basically the Internet now (just like Miley Cyrus and cats) and transfers 300 million dollar into Evelyn’s account, which she uses to buy the washed up town of Brightwood and turn it into a lab that is directly out of a Bond movie. Using his infinite mental ability now, the researcher couple sets off on a journey to rein in every kind of technology ever imagined by man but too good to be true, in the process becoming demigods.
What starts off on a promising note soon turns into a mangled mess as the story descends into chaos, never knowing where to stop. The film begins as a Sci-Fi fantasy but soon turns into Michael Bay kinda crap, which then takes a left turn to Revolutionary Road and finally ends as a zombie movie. Had the legendary cinematographer Wally Pfister, who debuts here as a director, decided to fully develop any single sub-plot, we could have had a masterpiece but the ambition of the movie makes it fall flat on the face.
What it lacks on the other hand is conviction. While Johnny Depp tries his best to salvage a sinking ship, even dependable actors like Rebecca Black and Kate Mara sleepwalk through their parts, looking like they were forced to choose between Transcendence and The Xpose on gun point and decided anything is better than being a part of something with “Tumhare shareer me itna khoon nahi hai jitna Ravi Kumar ek din me moot deta hai”. It’s even worse for Morgan Freeman who will become mortal again for those who watch this headless chicken of a movie. Only Paul Bettany comes close to giving an impressive performance.
A lot was expected from this movie with its stellar cast, the fact that the script was supposedly attached to Nolan for a long time and interesting trailers. But the movie will disappoint even those going in for brainless entertainment. Give it a miss.