Talk about biting off more than you can chew. This movie not only did that, it went for the whole f*cking steak. This movie throws a million ideas at the wall, and none of them stick. The directoral debut of Christopher Nolan's Director of Photography, Wally Pfister, this movie really does feel like a Christopher Nolan movie. Pfister just forgot one thing: the drama. The first act of this movie introduces some interesting ideas, but then the movie hits a brick wall in the second act. And all the ideas introduced in the first act are forgotten. The movie gets boiled down to generic action sequences and uninteresting characters. And then at the end the movie makes a complete 180 on all of the themes it was trying to establish in the movie just to have a twist. While I didn't see it coming, it was because, as I said, IT WAS A COMPLETE 180 TO THE THEMES THE MOVIE WAS ESTABLISHING THROUGHOUT. That's all I'm going to say about the ending. It was stupid. Moving on.
So most everything about this movie was subpar. The acting was pretty forgettable, for starters. Johnny Depp did not stand out as the main character here, and Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Clifton Collins Jr., and Cillian Murphy all played throwaway roles and brought nothing to the table other than their recognizable faces. The only person that stood out was Rebecca Hall. She was the only character that brought any humanity at all to the table, as well as any credibility to the story. Honestly she was far and away the best part of this movie.
The primary thing that is lacking in this movie is emotion. There is none. At all! You just don't care about any of the characters at all, and thus there is no drama. This movie had the potential to be as memorable as other Nolan films, however due to a convoluted storyline, and way too many characters, you are unable to focus on much of anything. Ultimately you just stop caring. A damn shame.
I will also give Pfister the cinematography card, though. Something about being a DP in his career.....anyway ya. The movie did look very good. But other than that....there's not a whole lot this movie has to offer. Personally, I've been waiting for a movie to be thought-provoking and interesting about the future of AI and how it may destroy the world or whatever. But honestly, outside of the Terminator series, I haven't gotten one yet. And even the Terminator series is not all that good because at this point it is so dated. Really I would rather watch Her again and think about how it addressed AI than I would Transcendence. That's not good for Transcendence seeing as it actually tries to address the AI morality issue head-on. But whatever! I'll just keep waiting for my thought-provoking AI movie.
The Critique: A for effort, but this movie goes for the whole steak at once. One bite at a time, guys.
The Recommendation: Stay away if you're a fan of Johnny Depp. This will only make you mad. Everyone else....maybe Netflix it? If you like Rebecca Hall you should check it out, and if you like sci-fi you should check it out, but definitely not at a theater. Sigh....
The Verdict: 3/10 Bad