Shouldn’t a future America ruled by the brain of Johnny Depp be more wacky than this dull-as-computer-code thriller? You wonder why Depp signed on to play the staid role of Will Caster, a Berkeley genius with an Einstein-shaggy hairdo. Before Will is critically wounded in an act of anti-computer terrorism, the film introduces some warmly geeky characters: Evelyn (Rebecca Hall, the fluttering heart of the film) is Will’s fundraiser, researcher and wife; Max (Paul Bettany) is their brilliant best friend; and Joseph (Morgan Freeman) is a government-supported scientist who smells something rotten in the air.
The human element is largely jettisoned, however, after Will’s brain gets wired to the web. He’s reborn as a mildly annoying overlord and husband, and microscopic nanobots begin to swarm into unsuspecting bodies. While ‘Transcendence’ has tons of money to spend on unpersuasive digital effects and drone-like music, it shows little interest in exploring the potentially tricky benefits of a computer-enhanced intellect. You won’t be able to follow its multiple subplots, nor will you care why Kate Mara is running around looking nervous.
The blame must go to Wally Pfister, normally a gifted cameraman for Christopher Nolan. But, in making his directorial debut, he tears too many pages out of his ex-boss’s humourless playbook – while forgetting to make his visuals dazzle. Reboot.