Christopher Nolan’s DoP of choice, Wally Pfister here makes his directorial debut with a splendid-looking sci-fi thriller that seeks to reconcile brain and brawn – rather like Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy, et al. It’s a talky affair that inevitably features much staring at screens and tapping of keyboards, and it’s eager to ponder such big questions as the nature of consciousness and the existence of the soul while also acting as a meditation on love and loss.
To their credit, Pfister and screenwriter Jack Paglen throughout retain an ambivalence regarding technological promise versus peril, but the musings are surface-deep and second-hand. Worse, for a movie that grows ever more ludicrous – science-fiction turns to science-fantasy turns to science-WTF! – it’s oddly monotonous.
Transcendence is, at tin heart, a B-movie with zombies, explosions and a bad robot, but with its event-movie budget and heavyweight cast (Nolan regulars Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy are also on board) it strives for po-faced significance when it should be cutting loose.