Transcendence, directed by Wally Pfister (Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer) is one of the smarter action movies I have seen in a while. As would be expected of the visual artist behind “Dark Knight”, it looks really good with almost “Godfather” like rich blacks and dark interiors contrasting with the vast expanse of the white shimmering underground quantum computing facility that is the center of much of the plot.
Like Her which preceded it by months, it plays on our suspicion that the benefits of ubiquitous 24/7 connectivity are not all they are cracked up to be. Using the Frankenstein myth as it’s jumping off point, the film questions whether Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity will be a blessing or a curse. Johnny Depp plays the Kurzweil stand in and a wonderful Rebecca Hall plays his super smart wife, Evelyn, who fulfills her role in the Adam and Eve myth by getting Johnny to eat the apple and upload his dying brilliance into the Internet.
What follows may not make logical sense after you emerge from the theater, but Pfister keeps everything moving at a quick pace so you never shout WTF? at the screen. Having sat through 20 minutes of trailers for the summer’s blockbuster season, all of which seemed to be some sort of adoption of the Transformers man vs really big machine formula, I can confidently say that at least Transcendence will engage your brain while it is trying to raise your heart rate. Exactly when the Knuckleheads will tire of the big machine destroying the city trope, is an open question. As for me, I will be catching up on my TV series over the summer.