Johnny Depp just loves playing strange. His resume reads like a who’s who of weirdos, especially in recent films like The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows, and the Pirates of the Caribbean films he continues to make (there are more of those coming unfortunately). So it was pretty refreshing to see him play a rather regular guy at the start of Transcendence. He’s a super smart scientist on the verge of a unique breakthrough in technology, but he’s got no weird makeup or crazy character traits like his characters usually do.
He plays Dr. Will Caster, a man who’s been working on technology that allows computers to transcend the abilities of the human brain. Of course, technology like that could affect mankind as we know it. It would be very beneficial for medical reasons and saving lives, but could also be detrimental as well if not handled properly. Will works with his wife Evelyn, played by Rebecca Hall. When news gets around of what he’s working on, threats and dangerous consequences arise… resulting in Evelyn trying to save her beloved husband’s life. She soon realizes that his technology is the only way to allow Will to live on in some form. She basically has to upload all that is Will into this sort of super computer he’s been working on.
It may sound a little far-fetched, but it’s all done in a rather plausible way. And who knows what kind of similar technology the government is working on right now? So the film moves on to Evelyn helping Will continue his work as he communicates with her in the form of artificial intelligence. It’s her only way of not keeping the man she loves in her life, even if he’s not really human anymore, and also to continue the work which they both were passionate about as well. But as we know from movies like I, Robot and 2001: A Space Odyssey, sometimes computers are too intelligent for our own good. And soon enough, those who know what’s going on start to wonder if the work they’re doing is really for the better of mankind or if it’s for computers to basically replace us.
Though Johnny Depp doesn’t get to play an oddball like he’s used to, he perfects the creepy, almost sinister tones of a man trapped in a computer which you don’t know the true intentions of. And there are some decent special effects throughout the film conveying the scientific breakthroughs being made. It makes for a pretty good sci-fi movie that’s a little like Inception but not quite as confusing; although I found that one to be more dazzling and fun to watch. This film manages to balance a love story with what is really a man vs machine type of thriller. Imagine yourself in the wife’s place, not wanting to leave the side of who she loves but also wondering if what’s being done is really right, and if it’s really him in there at all. It’s not the best science fiction movie by any means but it kept me interested in what would happen next and should satisfy most people looking for something a little different from the norm. Transcendence opens on Friday, April 18.