Transcendence opened today and I watched it. Having a fabulous cast line-up and being directed by someone who was involved with Inception and The Dark Knight series put the hopes pretty high up.
It was alright. Not bad in any way, but not awesome either. It looks great, but the story just moves predictably from one scene to another and ultimately arrives at an ending that’s endearing, but not as impacting as it could be. Also, Mara, Freeman and Murphy are really wasted here.
Like I always do, I came up with an alternate ending which makes it more interesting. To me, at least.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
In the movie, Dr. Will Caster (Depp) creates an A.I system capable of being combined with a living consciousness, assuming it’s identity and, for all intents and purposes, becoming a digital copy of that being. Will is a benign fellow, always wanting to use his work for good and not personal profit. Evelyn (Hall), his wife, shares similar sentiments, but isn’t entirely against some commercial application of the work. Depp is assassinated by an anti-A.I. outfit, so his wife decides to ‘upload’ him into the A.I. system, PINN, so he can live again. Max (Bettany), one of his team, is a little unsure when he first hears Depp as the A.I. talking about the stock market and requiring a lot more power, asking the question “Does that sound like Will?”. This is what my alternate ending is based on.
There is a moment in the movie towards the end when Bettany asks this question again to Hall, trying to convince her that the system does sound like Will and imitate him well, but it isn’t him, because it’s ideals and goals are different and more aggressive than the real Will’s. The RIFT people then inject Evelyn with the virus intended to take A.I. Will down, but this is where the twist is revealed: the A.I. was never really Will. It was Evelyn herself. She pretended to upload Will into PINN before he died, but she had already uploaded herself earlier. She used Will’s death as a cover up and legitimate reason to get PINN out and running under her control. The motive was simple: complete control over all the research and work and a lot more commercial application. That would explain why a company wholly owned by her makes a profit of several billion dollars overnight.
Evelyn had already learnt about and infiltrated RIFT earlier. She is the one who made the blue t-shirt guy (who is actually a hybrid) shoot Will. Evelyn is an expert in the sciences too, so she knows what the chemicals do. She’s the one to make the hybrid use poison-laced bullets to shoot Will.
How would this end? Total anarchy. Complete digital apocalypse. Evelyn/PINN is in the ground, in the air, in the water – everywhere. Every living thing either dies or is converted into a hybrid. Max, Joseph and Buchanan are electrocuted in the Brightwood face-off. She transcends being a human and an A.I. system into becoming everything in the world – the next digital age.
What do you think?
Bonus post credits scene: The black screen flickers, glitches and reboots. PINN wasn’t the only A.I. system Will was working on. There exists, in another data center in another part of the world, one more backup system, called Worldwide Intelligent Link Layer. And that has had Will’s consciousness hard-coded into it right from the beginning. The real WILL opens his eyes. Cut to black!