‘Lifeless’ Depp typifies pace of film

Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany. PA Photo/Entertainment Film

Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany. PA Photo/Entertainment Film

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Transcendence (12A, 119 mins) stars Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Clifton Collins Jr, Cole Hauser and Lukas Haas.

Man’s unhealthy relationship with technology takes a sinister turn in this ham-fisted sci-fi thriller, which imagines the consequences of an artificial intelligence running amok in the digital realm.

The high-brow concept of Jack Paglen’s undernourished script is at odds with the whizz-bang pyrotechnics that director Pfister is asked to deliver in the muddled second act, ultimately starving the film of jeopardy.

Characters are poorly developed and the line between the supposedly evil computer and valiant human rebels is blurred to the point that we couldn’t care less if our entire species is wiped out. Total oblivion would be sweeter than another 20 minutes spent in the company of a morose Johnny Depp et al.

Transcendence opens in Berkeley, California in the aftermath of a global blackout.

“The internet was meant to make the world a smaller place but it actually feels smaller without it,” muses Dr Max Waters (Paul Bettany).

The narrative rewinds to the same location five years earlier, where Dr Waters’s good friend Dr Will Caster (Depp), a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, lives with his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall).

Depp’s lifeless performance suggests a robotic doppelganger has taken his place while Hall and Bettany are tortured and tearful, wrestling with murky questions of morality beyond the film’s flimsy grasp.

[The review continues in a similar vein for another couple of hundred words, but you’ve got the idea - Editor]