A tedious mind fart of a movie, it’s easy to see why Transcendence has provided Johnny Depp with his fourth flop in a row. Drawing on the concept of 'the singularity' (the point at which an artificial intelligence will supercede that of human intelligence), it charts a chain of events set in motion by a terrorist organisation bent on curbing what they see as humankind’s over-reliance on technology. Critically wounded in one of their attacks, desperate wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) uploads the consciousness of her husband Dr. Will Caster (Depp), with predictably apocalyptic consequences.
Frankly, it all reads like a sub-1990s internet movie, which is part of the problem. Quite apart from the fact that the plot is riddled with more holes than an extra Swiss cheese (I’m not even going to get into why it matters that a standard chip array doesn’t resemble a neural network), it has all the philosophical complexity of a conversation in the Kardashian household. In the wake of ‘happy slapping’, neknomination and countless other trends bound to have Daily Mail readers frothing at the mouth (regardless of the fact that humans have being doing stupid stuff for as long as they’ve existed - it’s just that now they can tell other people about it on an epic scale) an anti-tech thriller is pretty much a given.
Sadly, Transcendence is a bug riddled beta-version. Mistakenly consigning Paul Bettany and Morgan Freeman’s ethical scientists to the sidelines, it’s populated almost exclusively by deeply unlikable characters (lead terrorist Kate Mara has a terminal case of bitchface that is a cause for concern for the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot), all of whom will have you rooting for the end of humanity almost as much as the end of the film. As for Rebecca Hall, they might as well have dropped the pretence and just called her Eve given that she and Mara appear to be primarily responsible for The Fall Of Man version 2.0, while Depp manages to prove conclusively that he’s only worth watching if left unchecked - boffinish villainy is not his forte.
The real shocker is perhaps that this - stunningly average looking - exercise in tedium is brought to us courtesy of the cinematographer responsible for the Batman trilogy and Inception.
Messy, boring, predictable, Transcendence will do nothing for the techno-thriller, Johnny Depp’s bankability or our apparent fear of science. One day, someone may make a slick cyber thriller that’s as gripping and emotional an experience as stalking your ex on Facebook. Sadly today is not that day.