In Transcendence, Johnny Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, a scientist who runs a cutting edge Artificial Intelligence lab in Berkeley, California. Will's devoted wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) is devastated when Will has been infected with a deadly virus from an anti-A.I. terrorist organization. Evelyn, also a scientist, makes the decision to keep Will's mind alive via an experimental procedure to merge Will's soul with a computer.
Transcendence is a muddled mess of a movie. It suffers from an identity crisis, not knowing which genre it wants to be...Drama? Science Fiction? Action? Art House? It's got all of the above, but doesn't succeed in melding them together to create a compelling film. Unfortunately, though it tries desperately to be taken seriously, the bad dialogue and ridiculous plot often make the movie lean towards being a comedy. This is a high budget, quality actor filled "B movie".
The pacing is incredibly sluggish. It feels like it's as long as Titanic, although it clocks in at less than two hours. There are plenty of artsy shots of nature, alongside plenty of action sequences that are straight out of the Expendables.
The acting is fine. I was happy to see Johnny Depp in a role that doesn't rely on him being quirky. Johnny, Thank You for taking a role with a director who isn't Tim Burton. His part is actually fairly small. The big star of the film is Rebecca Hall, playing Depps wife. She is the heart of the movie and does a great job portraying grief and obsession. Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany and Kate Mara are all good in their smaller roles. The acting isn't the problem with this film.
At one point, I thought the film was directed by Steven Soderbergh. It has a lot of the hallmarks of his films, with a hot topic social issue and different factions of characters representing the various sides of the issues. It's not a Soderbergh film, but it had his vibe.
The problem is really with the writing. The dialogue is laughable and the story takes a turn from mildly interesting to completely ridiculous within the first thirty- minutes. The story had a lot of similarities to the television show Revolution, so they didn't feel fresh or inventive.
Even if you're a hard-core Depp fan, there is zero reason to endure this film.