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Transcendence | 2014 | PG-13 | - 4.6.2

Sci-fi film about the clash between two different visions for humanity's future: a woman (Rebecca Hall) wants a fully sustainable world free of disease and her husband (Johnny Depp) and other scientists (Morgan Freeman and Paul Bettany) work on artificial intelligence as the way to get there, while technology protestors aim to remove all technology from the world in order to achieve the same result. Also with Kata Mara, Cillian Murphy and Cole Hauser. Directed by Wally Pfister. [2:00]

SEX/NUDITY 4 - A dream features a husband on top of his wife under sheets on a bed and they kiss several times as the man thrusts slightly; we see his nude side from the waist up, with bare arms and shoulders as well as her bare arms, shoulders and a small part of her ribcage (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 A woman wears a scoop-necked T-shirt without a bra under and the outline of her breasts and nipples are seen very briefly. A woman wears a sheer blouse with large opaque pockets over the collarbones, breasts and upper abdomen, revealing some of her lower back through the sheer material.
 A husband and his wife lie clothed on top of a bed; he is on his side and she is on her back (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). A man and a woman kiss each other on the cheek to say hello in three scenes and in one scene, they also hug briefly.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - Soldiers fire automatic rifles and cannons at human/machine hybrids (they're humans enhanced with AI-based capabilities) and a field of solar panels in one extended sequence: hybrids fall several times, with large red holes in their torsos, legs, arms and hands, but elements rise from the dirt as chains of silvery tiles that heal their wounds and they recover and stand up again, two hybrid men jump from the ground to the top of a three-story building and dozens of bombs explode in a field of solar panels, erupting with loud noises and large flashes of flames and smoke, solar panels suffer broken corners, but repair themselves as elements rise up from the ground in shiny spiraling chains, a pickup truck crashes into a large piece of standing construction equipment (no one is hurt) and a hybrid raises an empty car by its front fender and flips it over onto its back and it crashes producing smoke and a few small flames; a speeding SUV tips over onto one side and slides (we see no injuries), several soldiers fall wounded (no blood is shown) and their cannons crumble to pieces, a woman is shot off-screen and a man looks to the ground to indicate that she fell as a man off-screen yells, "She's hit!"; when power is cut off to a computer lab nearby, hybrids fall, groaning in pain with one shown clutching his blind eyes that were previously healed.
 A protestor shoots a man in a hallway, causing the target to fall (we cannot see a wound), the shooter points the gun under his own chin and we hear a shot and see the hand of the man hit the floor (his inner forearm is tattooed with "UNPLUG"); we then see the first man who was shot sitting in scrubs in a wheelchair in a hospital, being sent home.
 A husband carries his dying wife inside and lays her on a bed, where she shudders, shakes, and gasps (we see her blouse covered in blood and we see clotted blood on her abdomen) as he touches her bloody abdomen and we see dark blood on his fingers; his face and her face begin to grow dark capillaries across the cheeks and into the nose and eye areas as they kiss briefly and lie together on top of the bed, both apparently dead with dark nets of capillaries covering their faces; blood covers her abdomen, the front of her blouse, his hands and one of his sleeves.
 A huge explosion shakes a computer laboratory and one bay of computers and people are thrown into the air amid smoke and flame, with loud booming noises; we see dead men and women with blood running from their noses and ears, all draped over their workstations.
 A wife approaches her husband, who will not wake up and an associate finds that the husband has died; the camera cuts to a scene of the woman dumping ashes (likely her husband's) into a lake as two associates watch.
 TV coverage after an explosion shows people wearing Hazmat suits entering a building and guiding disheveled people outside, some with a little blood on their faces; a scientist says that the laboratory received a poison cake (a birthday cake) and an FBI agent says that it contained some sort of explosive.
 A woman sets up a small lab and surgical arena in an abandoned schoolhouse where she shaves a man's head while a scientist administers IV anesthetic (we see only the bag and part of a tube); the camera cuts to the patient awake, with dozens of electrodes in his scalp and attached by cords to a trunk line and a computer setup. A woman finds a photo of a monkey with its head shaved and a dozen electrodes implanted in his scalp; a woman and an associate argue about whether to try this with her dying husband, uploading his mind to a computer core and the man says the husband will die during the procedure and the woman insists on doing it.
 FBI agents and soldiers capture hybrids: after a severe beating by two townsmen, one bloody hybrid is carried by technicians to a lab table where a metal arm inserts probes into his nose and cheeks (blood, cuts and bruising disappear); two probes punch into a shin and come out clean (we see a large bruise fade while new blood vessels grow and new skin and hair thicken over them); another hybrid has long probes stuck into both eyes in close-up and the hybrid shakes as the eyes grow new irises and pupils; the patient cries with joy at regaining sight.
 We see a hospital lab where a gowned and masked man places blood into a vial via a dropper; the camera cuts to a doctor entering a patient's room where he explains to the patient that the bullet that hit him was irradiated, giving the patient about 5 weeks to live; at home, the injured man's eyes become redder and more sunken over the days and his cheeks carry dark hollows.
 Technology protestors kidnap a leading medical scientist after beating him up and shoving him into a car, then locking him in a cage (his face is bloody and his eye looks red and crushed and his cheek badly scraped). Several protestors cut through a power cable at a laboratory, shoot out a large window, which crashes loudly and shatters and the lab is disabled for a brief time. Protesters burn a few drivers' licenses and passports in a small campfire. A woman purchases a small town in a desert area after finding it crumbling and almost abandoned; nearly all the buildings except a diner are shuttered and falling down and two slovenly men wearing sleeveless shirts that reveal tattoos roam the town and beat up a man in one scene (we see the man with a bloody nose and mouth, but he recovers).
 In a dream a woman has, a man lying on top of a woman in bed gasps, turns away from the camera, falls onto his back and immediately changes into a robot frame; shiny tiles rise off the frame, until he disappears and a woman wakes up alone, screaming; she wakes up gasping near scream level in another scene, but says she is OK to a computer voice that asks if she is all right.
 A computer upload of a scientist's memories and thoughts configures itself to communicate with the man's wife, then creates a speaking facial avatar of the scientist and over time, the screen shows an increasingly lifelike image of the scientist; it places its image on wide screens every few yards at ceiling height in a large laboratory and in his wife's living quarters until the wife begins to feel trapped and argues with the image; she drives away from home one night in the rain, exasperated and takes off her wedding ring, but later returns home.
 Two scientists argue several times over artificial intelligence and a computer program that claims to be her dead husband; they argue loudly about stopping the program and she shouts several times for the other scientist to get out. A man shouts at protestors, "Don't touch her!" several times as they leave to find a woman that is in charge of an AI that is dangerous; a female protestor says that technology is dangerous overall. A man slips a woman a note that reads, "RUN FROM THIS PLACE." We hear that a computer that uploaded the mind of a monkey would only scream continually to be shut down. A band of technology protestors throw fliers into streets, take pictures of scientists working on technology and of surveillance cameras on light poles; they attend science conferences, asking loudly if scientists want to create gods, but they are largely ignored. We hear that if worldwide electricity, computers, and the Internet are disabled, the Earth will heal itself and regenerate fully from pollution erosion, and climate change.
 Four men wearing Hazmat suits kidnap a woman and take her to a scientist and his FBI partner in a warehouse; after an argument, she cries and agrees to undergo infection with AI nanites that contain a virus; in a close-up, we see a man set down a hypodermic needle and roll down the woman's sleeve, indicating that the virus was received.
 A scientist, an FBI agent and three soldiers plan to kidnap a human hybrid for examination and in a desert the group picks up a man who was formerly kidnapped by a group of technology protestors.
 Scenes in a large laboratory show small metal arms poised over tables, holding pieces of metal that are constructing themselves; we also see trays of plants growing and we later see capsules on tables with small windows in the sides; we see a human hand growing inside one capsule and inside another capsule the matrix of a foot and ankle is filling in with pink body tissue; under a microscope, we see nanites replicating themselves and later, we see nanites replicating in the rainwater as we hear that all biological life will be replaced by nanites and AI. An elderly man in an electric wheelchair is seen the next morning looking several years younger and able to walk and he opens a door to men and women on oxygen lines and crutches, and boys and girls who are limping; we hear that they will receive healing and enhancement.
 A series of flash-forward scenes shows abandoned buildings, trash, debris, and shabbily dressed people in cluttered city streets full of dirt and dust while soldiers patrol the streets, armed with assault rifles; broken laptop computers serve as doorstops, no electric power or operational vehicles are evident and we hear that governments shut down the Internet and computers everywhere to stop Earth's destruction.
 FBI agents in an office carry handguns in holsters on their hips or stuck into their waistbands.
 A man rubs his neck and head and says that he is in pain; that night, we hear him vomiting off-screen and the camera pans to the bathroom, where he backs up from the toilet (we see no vomit), coughs, and sits against the wall, sweating.


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LANGUAGE 2 - 2 scatological terms, 1 mild obscenity, name-calling (fools, hackers, insane, dump), stereotypical references to men, women, scientists, robot-human hybrids, Artificial Intelligence, government agents, impulsive military personnel, protesters, environmentalists, 4 religious exclamations (e.g. My God, Jesus Christ, Oh My God).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A woman tells her husband that it is time to take a pill, but we see no medication, and a man says that a cake was poisoned with an unknown substance while another man says it exploded. A man drinks a glass full of whiskey at a bar and drinks from a tall glass of beer, a man has a glass of beer in front of him at a bar, two men drink from tall glasses of beer at a bar, and a woman drinks a glass of wine and an elderly woman walks into her dining room where she pours another glass from the bottle.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Technology, the Internet, artificial intelligence, energy usage, sustainability, medical science, miracle cures, protest movements, animal experiments, violence, reconciliation, redemption.

MESSAGE - Technological advancement and sustainability struggle for dominance.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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