Transcendence

Cast: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara Direction: Wally Pfister Genre: Sci-Fi Duration: 1 hour 59 minutes

STORY: An Artificial Intelligence researcher’s consciousness is uploaded online to supposedly benefit mankind. Fighting to stop him however is an antitechnology group that believes this is conceptually immoral. REVIEW: Will immortality in the future mean an infinite existence in cyberspace, where one’s consciousness can outlive the human body? Soft-spoken genius Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) researcher, Dr Will Caster (Depp) certainly thinks so.

The film is set in the not-too-distant future where there is a backlash against artificiallyintelligent technology. Ably supported by co-scientist and wife Evelyn (Hall), Caster envisions mankind being benefited by a God-like A.I. that has the power to heal, regenerate and create. Caster addresses a seminar, outlining his plans for creating a supreme form of intelligence that is selfaware. When someone accuses him of trying to create a ‘God’, Will’s reply is awkward but he doesn’t disagree. Soon after, he is fatally wounded by a polonium-tipped bullet fired by an assassin from anti-technology group RIFT (Revolutionary Independence From Technology), headed by Bree (Mara).

Realizing that Caster has barely days to live, his wife and associate Max Waters (Bettany, also the narrator) uploads his consciousness and memories to an A.I. system that Caster had created, called PINN (Physically Independent Neural Network) to give him immortality. Caster’s transcendence gives him overarching powers. This also alerts FBI Agent Buchanan (Murphy) and Joseph Tagger (Freeman). Caster transforms from reclusive researcher into some kind of cyber-Frankenstein who can give eyesight to the blind, make super-humans, reanimate the dead and cure cancer.

Caster’s ghostly (often ghastly) disembodied visage intoning emotionless sentences combined with the semi-surreal, bare landscape of Middle America is a metaphor for isolation. Hall’s performance is tense and there are some creepy moments in the film. First-time director Pfister (Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer) gives Jack Paglen’s screenplay a moody, slow pace. Film composer Mychael Danna’s (Life Of Pi), sweeping orchestrations and moody synthesizers sometimes highlights the slow pace. The film is essentially a far-fetched, sometimes muddled, cautionary tale about mankind being taken over by the machines that they themselves have created, albeit with the best of intentions.

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