Saturday, April 19, 2014


In Transcendence the terrorists win. Why?

Plot: Terrorists  blow up computer research centers and assassinate computer genius Will Caster (Johnny Depp.) Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), his wife, desperately uploads his brain into a computer. The disembodied Will disappears into the internet as the terrorists raid this home and shoot up his host computer. Will raises money with high frequency trading, and brings Evelyn to a small town where they build a giant computer with robot medical facilities & solar panels. In time they operate on the town's people fixing their illness, but also getting control over them. The terrorists kidnap and persuade other computer scientists that Will is bad, and they switch sides. This sets up the final battle. [imdb]    [photos]

[SPOILERS - I don't recommend this movie, so I don't feel bad spoiling it.] 

Review: Transcendence gets the end wrong. I don't understand why the Luddites (people who reject technology] win.

Worse, the terrorists win. Not only that, but establishment types switch sides to join them, and the terrorists continue bombing and machine-gunning people to the end. Maybe we are supposed to think that Luddism is a holy cause, but the world without electricity and computers at the end of the movie isn't a utopia:  more likely a famine-plagued planet where people freeze in the winter.

There were good parts, I liked Rebecca Hall's performance. She was a highlight. The images of the computer center are cool as are the dinner scenes with the virtual Johnny Depp. The first 30 minutes is pretty cool as we get the tech set up.

Later in the movie the anti-technology Luddite message takes over, and the movie has a dark, dark ending with Will and Evelyn hugging each other in death.

I am so tired of Morgan Freeman as a scientist in every movie. Go away Morgan Freeman.

Cast: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman

Directed by: Wally Pfister

Rating: 1.5 stars: A promising start, but end sucks.

More: Did writer Paglen write the script on a manual typewriter as befits his techno-phobia? 

Even More: If you are going to make a movie where terrorism is justified, you need to try much harder. The moral case for justifiable terrorism is hard to argue  -- it is rather like the argument to torture prisoners -- I suppose Jack Bower on 24 does that all the time. It is not taken seriously enough here.