Transcendence – Review

Genre Science-fiction, Thriller
Directed by Wally Pfister
Starring Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser, Paul Bettany
Released on April 10, 2014 (New York City), April 18, 2014 (United States)
Duration 119 minutes
Flixxpanda Rating 8/10
Channel Netflix

The world of science fiction is fascinating and wonderful to behold but sometimes films in the genre don’t seem to stay true to what it truly means. Science fiction implies that we extrapolate what we already know and attempt to show what we could be. It can’t be bland but it also can’t be baseless. There needs to be roots in reality for the film to be a success. Transcendence is one in such section.

Transcendence is a science fiction thriller. The trailer looked fascinating but the movie didn’t do well at the box office and received quite a lot of negative reviews. I however thought it was ambitious and quite brilliant. The plot was a bit muddled and tangled up but it was good nevertheless.

Here’s what its about Transcendence . Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence research along with his wife Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall). They are the dream couple. They’re smart, beautiful and incredibly in love. At least Evelyn seems to be because Johnny Depp’s performance in the film is quite emotion-less. Maybe that was because they were trying to portray him as an apathetic machine. The end result is that we don’t really know much of what he’s feeling for majority of the film.

After a lecture while leaving the building Will get’s shot and is taken to the hospital immediately. He’s soon discharged but we later see he’s quite sick and nobody knows what’s wrong. A few minutes later the doctors reveal he was shot with a bullet laced with a plutonium isotope. That means he’s got radiation poisoning. He’s got four weeks to live.

Before all this went down though, the two were working on building a sentient machine. Something self-aware. They had built ‘PINN’, a partial success. However, with Will dying, Evelyn becomes desperate and decides she wants more time with him. So they decide to upload his consciousness and along with PINN’s source code create a machine/A.I. being. Max, a good friend says he doesn’t know if it’s the real Will or a copy with just traces of him. That’s the first look at the disaster that’s about to come.

Will becomes power hungry and Evelyn is too blind to see what’s actually going on. She connects him to the internet and from then on the movie spirals. Will persuades Evelyn to build a research center in the middle of the desert in a town called Brightwood. Fast forward and Will is curing blind people and has made leaps and bounds in research fields like nanotechnology. Bottom line is he’s unstoppable.

But you can’t really decide if it’s a bad thing or not. Will never hurts anyone and he wants to heal the world. We later learn that that dream was Evelyn’s, she’s the one who wanted to change to world not him. It’s confusing as to whether the machine is really Will or just a virtual copy.

The film makes you question how enslaved we are to technology. Whether it’s an extension of us or are we building separate entities, cheap version of ourselves. The issue with Transcendence is that it doesn’t really know which side to pick. Are machines bad? Or are they bad when controlled by bad humans? Is everything okay as long as the world is controlled by good-looking humans?

But give the film a shot, I quite liked it.

Video Credit – YouTube

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