Movie Review : Transcendence


Will Caster (Depp) is a gifted scientist working on breakthrough Artificial Intelligence technology with his devoted wife Evelyn (Hall) and business partner Max (Bettany). They are at a pivotal moment in their research which requires lots more funding if they are to move ahead. They speak quite intensively at an investors convention so this is a nice clean way of introducing us, as well as potential investors, into the world of AI technology.

Not everyone….. Max included …… agrees with the way AI research is heading and as such, an attempt on Will ‘s life is made by an extremist anti-tech group after the conference. He lingers on for a while but does eventually die. His grieving wife, desperate to hang onto her husband in any way she can, convinces Max to surge forward with their plans to upload Will’s brain into an AI system.

And it works.

Or does it?

What follows is a pretty decent sci-fi thriller…….for a while. Max and Evelyn soon part ways over their now entirely opposing views on Will and the AI she has created. Evelyn builds a huge complex to house Will and his ever-expanding control of the world’s technology. Pretty soon, Will starts to perform so-called miracle cures for sick people and, as is the way for the very desperate, word spreads so there is no shortage of people willing to turn over their minds in exchange for being cured.

The movie does begin to explore the philosophical arguments that naturally arise from this sort of technology. Technology vs man. What is a human soul? What is human consciousness? Can a human mind truly be captured in AI? It’s interesting and thought-provoking within the movie and within my own internal monologue. Not sure if anyone else does this but there ya go. I internally monologue sometimes.


Then the movie fumbles the proverbial ball. It becomes increasingly long winded and seems to lose its way. Depp falls into an almost annoyingly monotone depiction of himself. He’s reading lines, no longer acting and suddenly seems old, useless and redundant. It’s a sad moment. The talents of Bettany and Freeman are wasted entirely as they are relegated to mere bit players. Who is this Director to treat Freeman in such a way? I google Pfister when I get home and am not surprised to learn this is his Directorial debut. He is a talented cinematographer but a terrible Director. I give him a pass for first time nerves.

Overall, this is the type of movie that should have, and does, open a topical dialogue on where technological advances are taking us and our reliance of said technology but it simply looses its focus and therefore its momentum. Such a great opportunity is let slide by. If they sliced about 30 minutes out of the middle, it may have redeemed itself but as it stands, this is little more than a Saturday afternoon filler. See it if you must ….. but my advice is to go and see The Lego Movie again. It has more depth.

Love Flick xx


Director :   Wally Pfister

Starring :   Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Cole Hauser, Clifton Collins Jr, Cory Hardrict

Running Time :  119 minutes

Release Date :  24 April 2014

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