Cast: Johnny Depp (Dr. Will Caster), Morgan Freeman (Joseph Tagger), Rebecca Hall (Evelyn Caster), Kate Mara (Bree), Cillian Murphy (Donald Buchanan), Cole Hauser (Colonel Stevens), Paul Bettany (Max Waters), Clifton Collins Jr. (Martin), Cory Hardrict (Joel Edmund)
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller
Direction: Wally Pfister
Production: Broderick Johnson, Andrew A Kosorve, Kate Cohen, Marisa Polvino, Annie Marter, David Valdes, Aaron Ryder
Written by: Jack Paglen
Cinematographer: Jess Hall
Editor: David Rosenbloom
Music: Mychael Danna
Studio: Alcon Entertainment, DMG Entertainment, Straight Up Films
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures (United States & Canada), Summit Entertainment (International), Entertainment Film Distributors (UK)
Release Date: 18th April, 2014 (India)
Duration: 1 hour 59 minutes
Transcendence is a sci-fi movie visualizing a world of artificial intelligence. The movie begins with Max Waters’ (Paul Bettany) visit to a house in Berkeley, which shows that the society has taken major technological steps backwards. The computers are useless now, and are literally used as doorstops, the networks have failed. A voice over by Max lets us know that many cities are without power. In fact chaos is there since armed soldiers are shown openly patrolling the streets.
Then the movie steps back by five years. Dr. Will Caster (Johney Depp), an artificial intelligence researcher is at the forefront of a team of scientists who are in the process of creating PINN (Physically Independent Neural Network), an artificially intelligent computer that possesses Sentience and Collective intelligence.
Evelyn (Rebecca Hall, wife of Dr. Will Caster), who also wants to change the world, heal the planet through artificial intelligence, hosts a conference to attract potential sponsors. There, Will Caster suggests during his presentation that it would be so wonderful that if all the computers in the world, which are already smarter than us, become self-aware too. He talks of his research Transcendence i.e. convergence of artificial intelligence and human intelligence.
Will is shot by an anti-Artificial Intelligence (anti-AI) extremist soon after the presentation. Simultaneously, anti-AI attacks and kills many team members in various AI research facilities in the world. Will survives the bullet, but doctors discover that the bullet was laced with radioactive materials which will eventually stop the functioning of all vital organs, resulting to death. Will is left with just 4-5 weeks of life.
Evelyn, grief-stricken, thinks of saving Will, or at least his mind, by using the quantum processors of PINN to essentially upload Will’s brain (consciousness) into cyberspace, where he can live forever. She asks good friend and fellow researcher Max to do so. They almost succeed in their attempt, but Max soon feels that AI version of Will may not be Will at all. Max is shown the door by Evelyn who is very happy to feel the digital form of her husband and starts connecting Will to the cyber world.
Max is almost immediately confronted and captured by Bree (Kate Mara), the leader of Revolutionary Independence from Technology (RIFT), the extremist group, which had carried out the attack on Will Castor, his lab and scientists.
What happens next? How Will takes control over the situation? How he protects Evelyn? What Max is asked to do by RIFT? How does Evelyn survive with Will’s support? What roles FBI agents Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman, a friend of Will and Evelyn) and Donald Buchanan (Cillian Murphy) play in getting Max back? How do they get to track down Max? What was the purpose of Will behind building Brightwood Data Center? What were Will’s intentions: was it to build a better society, or to destroy the society? Could he complete his research on Transcendence with Evelyn? Is digitally surviving Will dangerous? Does Evelyn ever lose trust upon Will? What shape does the relationship between Will and Evelyn take later on? Does Will become a threat to Evelyn? What does RIFT do? How does the movie conclude – with the global blackout or further chance of transcendence? Watch the movie to seek answers.
Transcendence is the directorial debut for the cinematographer Wally Pfister. Though he has not got great reviews from various critics for this movie, but I think, his efforts are appreciable.
Transcendence definitely deserves your viewership.
Watch it and find out whether Transcendence permeates real lives or not !!!