Artificial Unintelligence

Johnny Depp tanks in another mediocre film

By Carlos Razo
Staff Writer

2/5

Taking a quick look at the talent behind the film “Transcendence,” which stars Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillin Murphy, and Rebecca Hall, the film retained talented, well-known actors that have played a variety of roles to critical acclaim. The film was also executively produced by Christopher Nolan, a notoriously brilliant filmmaker who has been blowing audiences minds for years with films like “The Dark Knight” and “Inception.” Additionally, the film was even directed by Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister.  How could anything possibly go wrong?

Besides an interestingly relevant premise, “Transcendence” is a silly, highly implausible science-fiction film that features a script unworthy of its talented crew.

After a technological breakthrough, Dr. Will Caster (Depp) is assassinated by a group of anti-tech extremists. Will’s wife Evelyn (Hall) and colleague Max (Bettany) decide the only way to keep Will’s legacy alive is to store his thoughts, memories, and emotions into the highly-advanced artificial intelligence they had been working on. But once Will’s mind is put into a computer, and his power infinite, will he still be the man they knew? Soon after, Caster has linked himself to every informational highway on the net, and through an endless supply of data and information, begins to push the boundaries of technological advances to their limit.

The plot is reminiscent of films like “Terminator” and “Blade Runner,” but unlike those iconic pictures, the stimulating plotline goes nowhere, with little character development given to further the drama. Instead of exploring its heavy-handed themes of man’s obsession with technological, the film merely glances over its own plot, with no twists, turns, or character arcs to add punch to the narrative.

Depp, who has been rightfully hailed as one of Hollywood’s most diverse actors, gives another phoned in performance as Caster. Hopefully this and “The Lone Ranger” are not signs of things to come for the talented star. The other performances are fine, and fulfill the unfortunately small requirements the script demands. Coming from a director that worked so long in excellent, Oscar nominated cinematography; one would think that, at the least, the film would have a grandiose look to it. Again, this is where the film refuses to go the extra mile. There are a few moments that capture a beautiful image, but it lacks the size and scope of Pfister’s previous work.

Despite previous criticisms, nothing in this film stands out as bad, but more of a massive letdown considering the intriguing premise and diverse artistry of its creative team. Such a sprawling plotline, and the movie felt disappointingly small and even short. Those looking for science-fiction thrills will be left disappointed, and the same can be said for anyone drawn to the film by its creators. It is not a terrible film by any means, but with a summer jam-packed with blockbusters, this A.I is artificial, but anything but intelligent.