Between The Lone Ranger and Dark Shadows, Johnny Depp hasn't exactly lit up the box-office in recent years. But his next movie is an aggressive bid to reestablish his blockbuster credentials: Transcendence, a twisty sci-fi thriller produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by Inception cinematographer Wally Pfister.
The first teaser for Transcendence was virtually impenetrable, but this extended glimpse gives us a much more detailed glimpse at the film's mind-bending narrative. "The path to building super-intelligence requires us to unlock the most fundamental secrets of the universe," says Johnny Depp's protagonist at a tech conference that looks suspiciously like a TED Talk. Depp's plan? Create a computer with analytical power "greater than the collective intelligence of every person born in the history of the world." That's the kind of thing that never goes badly, right?
Unfortunately for Depp, his grand scheme is undercut by R.I.F.T., or "Revolutionary Independence From Technology" — a grassroots group that presumably saw The Terminator and decided they'd rather not be on the losing side of a war with the machines. A failed assassination attempt puts Depp on his deathbed, but his desperate wife (Rebecca Hall) uploads his consciousness to their super-computer — only to discover that she's not entirely comfortable with the human/machine hybrid he becomes. (Think Her by way of 2001: A Space Odyssey's HAL-9000, and you'll get the idea.)
"If we don't stop him, it will be the end of mankind as we know it," says Morgan Freeman, in his eternally convincing baritone. Transcendence is certainly making a case for itself as a smart, relevant techo-thriller — but will audiences respond to this dark vision of the near-future? We'll find out when Transcendence hits theaters in April.