Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall) and husband Will (Johnny Depp) are high-end, famous scientists in the field of artificial intelligence. When a radical anti-technology group murders Will, Evelyn puts his consciousness “online,” after which he directs her to a boarded-up desert blot of a Hollywood crud town which she upcycles into a secret science lair. Will wants to use technology to better humanity. Do you think he’ll go too far?
There’s a lot of vague talk about networks and whiteboards of equations that are probably being discredited by math nerds right now (here’s a free Tumblr name: Good Will Debunking), but this directorial debut by Wally Pfister (Christopher Nolan’s DOP) inches along compellingly, despite a tired god versus science debate and near-humourlessness. Excepting Depp, who is reaching Pacino-like levels of self-parody, Transcendence
is impeccably cast—besides the eternally watchable Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Clifton Collins Jr. and Cillian Murphy also lend gravity. Pfister cedes the camera to Jess Hall (The Spectacular Now
), who makes the sci-fi of it all look as earthly as possible. Well-made but just a bit muddy, Transcedence
doesn’t reach its goal height but looks good trying. —Tara Thorne