‘Transcendence’ Misses the Mark as a Science Fiction Film

The human race is at a time in history where our fantasies and what we imagine the future would bring ever since the industrial revolution is now meshing with the actual fruits of that advanced technology.

We are in the infant stages of incorporating computers into our lives to the point that they are extensions of our consciousness.

As the first "plugged-in" generation, it is both inevitable and necessary that we consider the potential implications of extending our mental and physical capabilities as a species well beyond those that our natural evolution has allowed.

Science and science-fiction minds alike refer to this merging of people and their computers as "The Singularity." Literature, television and film have sifted this mine for decades, from "2001: A Space Odyssey" to "The Matrix."

The latest movie to cover the singularity refers directly to this concept, though it goes by a different name, "Transcendence."

In "Transcendence," Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is a scientist working to achieve singularity alongside his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), and best friend Max (Paul Bettany).

Dr. Caster and his research team are known as the face of the transcendence movement, a movement that extremist organization R.I.F.T. (Revolutionary Independence from Technology) is hell-bent on stopping, for fear of the consequences of sacrificing humanity for technology.

Following the carry-out of a terrorist plot by R.I.F.T., several transcendence research centers are attacked, and Dr. Caster is shot by an irradiated bullet, which he survives, but leaves him with roughly five weeks to live.

In an attempt to save her husband and their life's work, Evelyn convinces Max to help her use the program they've been working on to upload Will's consciousness to a computer so when his body finally expires, his mind will live on.

After Will is successfully uploaded to a computer, he demands to be connected to the Internet. From there, he is able to become an all-knowing being that is capable of accessing any computer system anywhere in the world.

He is able to progress his life's work, with Evelyn acting as his surrogate, at an extremely accelerated pace and learns how to regenerate human cells and make humans and the environment invincible.

It is his desire to spread the transcendence throughout the world until he is essentially a god, and it is R.I.F.T., Max and the FBI's mission to stop Will before he becomes omnipotent and ends humanity in favor of computer-run hybrids of himself.

Conceptually, "Transcendence" is both intriguing and relevant. In terms of execution, however, it seems to struggle in the middle ground of being a plausible science-fiction film and a far-fetched fantasy thriller.

"Her," another recent film that handles the merging and co-existence of humanity and artificial intelligence, was successful due to the fact that viewers knew the only way for the film to work was for things to turn sour, and it was how they went sour that made it unpredictable and effective.

In "Transcendence," however, things take a turn for the worse, as well as conventional wisdom as the film's trailer would indicate, but they go bad in a way that main characters should have seen coming a mile away.

Despite strong performances from its lead actors and a story that has viewers just begging to drag them in and scare them with a potential cautionary tale for the not-to-distant future, "Transcendence" misses the mark.