I finally pulled up Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Cole Hauser, Morgan Freeman and Clifton Collins Jr.. (Yes, klooking at the cast you can say Pirates meets Iron Man 3, meets Dark Knight, meets Riddick, meets Pacific Rim!)
The movie’s tone starts out dark or slow paced as we are previewed with a scene of the aftermath from events within our story and then we jump back in time that takes us on the journey towards that end scene. That back story includes a dark, slow tone that follows Dr. Caster (Depp) who has been working on creating the ultimate AI (artificial intelligence). But his research make him a target of an anti-technology extremist group that ends up killing him, forcing the situation to the point of where he is forced to upload his own consciousness into his creation, or, as he calls it, transcended.
The moment the program finally comes into existence, meaning, it puts the finishing touches on integrating the upload of Caster’s mind into the computer and comes to life, the very first thing it says to his/its wife (Hall) is that the computer it is on does not have enough resources and needs access to the internet. It needs access to wall street. Weird huh? That it wants access to Wall Street?
His wife is ecstatic that he/it is “alive” again and seems to drink the punch about it being her late husband. I mean, he is, but now with a massive amount of awareness, sees all the potential he/it has to fulfill his and his wife’s many dreams.
And the beginning of “Skynet” goes from there, as the story is predictable yet still mildly original through acts two and three.
To be honest, this was a solid and serious performance by Depp, if you can imagine “Jack Sparrow” on serious doggie downers.
If you like dark stories this is the film for you. Bettany plays the friend who tries to stop the wife from releasing the program onto the internet while Mara is one of the … well, you’ll see if you watch it. And when Bettany urges Hall to think about her decision, she kicks him out of their lab and home. Yep… drunk from the punch she is!
The tone of the film, from moment one is a melancholy sort of desperate quiet. For the opening act, it was displaced, but became more appropriate as the story continued.
Everyone delivered their characters wonderfully, with Hall delivering a subtle but smooth portrayal of the scientist partaking in the loss of her beloved’s dream while being deluded by the machine thinking she’s carrying on with his scientific goals.
Yet as the story progresses, you’re pretty sure you know who the bad guy is, I think. The computer’s intent seems so damn altruistic that it almost seems to be looking out for humanity… sort of.
If this franchise had legs, it could have been the start of another post-apocalyptic film franchise like Terminator. But alas, another mega computer virus movie with a somber Johnny Depp does not seem to be on the path of sequels. That seems in part because aside from having an estimated budget of $100M (not counting marketing), the film only made $56M worldwide. It seems Depp is losing his draw and the marketing sucked.
I think if you like Depp’s more serious roles, I think you would like this film. If I had to give this film a score, I’d say it is easily a 6 (out of 10) on the popcorn score.
If it comes up on TV or your pay movie channel, go ahead and stick around. It’s not a bad time killer. I think I’m glad I didn’t drop bucks on this in the theaters but probably would not have minded renting it.