Technology lives in ‘Transcendence’

Photo courtesy of A-list actors, including Morgan Freeman and Johnny Depp, star in “Transcendence,” which premiered April 18.
Photo courtesy of A-list actors, including Morgan Freeman and Johnny Depp, star in “Transcendence,” which premiered April 18.

Photo courtesy of
A-list actors, including Morgan Freeman and Johnny Depp, star in “Transcendence,” which premiered April 18.

As a culture, we can be amazed by the advancement of technology. Whether it is computers, cell phones or cars, the question has always been: when will technology become too advanced? In his directorial debut, Wally Pfister, who is well known for being Christopher Nolan’s legendary cinematographer, succeeds in his star-studded ensemble piece in which technology becomes much more advanced.

In “Transcendence,” Will Caster is the foremost researcher in the field of artificial intelligence and he is on the brink of a scientific breakthrough. He is working on creating a sentient machine with the capacity to combine the intelligence of the world while having a full range of human emotions. Because of this, he becomes a target of anti-technology extremists known as RIFT (Revolutionary Independence From Technology).

When a member of this organization attempts to destroy Will, they unknowingly help him succeed in his attempt by making him a participant in his own transcendence. For Will’s wife, Evelyn, and his best friend, Max, the question they must ask themselves: should they go through with this?

As Will’s body dies, he becomes an actual artificial being with a thirst for knowledge and eventually power, which brings Evelyn and Max’s deepest fears straight to the surface. Soon they start to worry that there may be no way to stop Will.

To say that this film is a one man show would be wrong – this film is an ensemble piece, which is what allows it to succeed. The film stars Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy and Morgan Freeman.

Channeling a bit of mad scientist, Depp is sincere in his performance as a man who literally dies for his dream. The chemistry between Depp and Hall is poignant and beautiful.

This movie would not have been the same without the three leading actors. Hall and Bettany channel a will to fight for their shared loved one, while proving that there are repercussions that have to be dealt with and eventually take opposite sides to deal with the problem, which results in a lot of drama.

Freeman and Murphy are exceptional as the supporting characters – you really can’t complain with these two actors. Mara is an interesting choice as the leader of the RIFT group – she is feisty and forceful, yet does not feel very grounded as a leader.

Pfister does not miss a step when it comes to the visuals of this film. He shows us the same talent that we saw all throughout The Dark Knight Trilogy. Newcomer Jack Paglen provides audiences a heart-wrenching and question-probing script.

The film succeeds as a tale of a science-oriented couple that fights for its dream to change the world for the better. Their love for one another drives them to chaos, which in turn shows such beauty and displays both Depp and Hall’s true acting chops.

The film, however, falls short because of the science aspect being too over the top. The concept of this rapid advancement of technology is still flawed because we are not there yet as a scientific community.

It also sparks a sincere fear of what could happen, but leaves us pondering questions that there are no clear answers for.


Story by John Gruccio, Contributing writer