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A slick movie, a great looking movie, a visual feast as you can expect it from Pfister, that fantastic DP. An ill-begotten variation on the end of humanity, on the status usually known as Singularity, here introduced as Transcendence, but same thing, equally abstract and incomprehensible and humanity-ending. Innovation turns its teeth against the creators, good intentions lead to catastrophic results, and doom is hard to avoid. What’s nice is that there finally is a chance again to see Johnny Depp not in drag, as a somehow grown and aged actor who still can carry a more serious role. Unfortunately, he does not get much screen time, and the bad thing about this has nothing to do with Johnny’s pretty face, but with the plot development of removing this key character away from the drama, and into a Thron-like netherworld. From then on, Transcendence wants to be a SciFi action thriller, MK14 and larger calibers included. What is wasted along the way is the opportunity to discuss the ethical questions of what they are doing, to reflect on the future of mankind and to see whether the clever minds that are assembled (next to Depp there are Rebecca Hall and the always delightful, almost equally always under-utilised Paul Bettany) can come up with a strategy averting doom.

As it is, the fate of humanity is (again) decided on the (solar panel) battlefield, with heavy weapons rather than heavy thinking. That is a letdown in a film that had all ingredients to be much more substantial.

While the film in general has received rather mooted reviews, here is Kermode in defense of its lasting influence and qualities.

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