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A Plot Summary For Wally Pfister's 'Transcendence' Leaks With Terrorists, Self Aware Computers & More

by Kevin Jagernauth
December 11, 2012 6:27 PM
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Johnny Depp, Wally Pfister, Transcendence

So, last month when The Wrap dropped some details on the plot of Wally Pfister's secretive, Christopher Nolan-produced "Transcendence," it turned out some of it was a bit off. But now they've actually grabbed a script and talked so producers, so this should be legit. And lest you were concerned that this might just be another ordinary day at the multiplex sci-fi ballpark, you would be mistaken.

What we know so far is that the film will star Johnny Depp, features three main leads (all scientists), and also include a character “who creates a computer that develops a malevolent awareness." The trade now reports that "the plot involves a scientist whose brain gets uploaded into a supercomputer with the aim of creating the world’s first machine that can think for itself," with producer Andrew Kosove confirming that fact. Depp will be playing Will, who is married to fellow scientist Evelyn, with Max rounding out the trio. The latter two need to be cast, but not for lack of trying.

Ewan McGregor reportedly turned it down, Tom Hardy is unavailable due to scheduling, as is Kate Winslet (they are definitely aiming for big names). No word on cinematographer Pfister's other Batman buddy Christian Bale, who it was reported he wanted for his directorial debut, but it would seem anyone from Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy is fair least for the rumor mill. So lot's more to come, but do you want to know even more? Well The Wrap has a pretty detailed plot summary so fair warning there will be spoilers ahead. Read on:

According to the summary, a group of anti-technology terrorists assassinate Will, Evelyn uploads his brain into a prototype supercomputer. Although she at first finds the experiment seems to have gone wrong, before too long Evelyn finds Will responding in computer form.

She goes on to connect Will to the Internet so he can help make further scientific breakthroughs. Will asks Evelyn to connect a microphone and a camera up to the computer so he can see and speak to her as well.

Will creates a backup of himself to every computer in the world, and furthers his work through accessing online indexes. (Kosove told TheWrap this plot point is no longer in the script.) When the anti-technology organization finds out, they try to steal the supercomputer and destroy it, but Will no longer needs the computer to survive.

Thoughts, opinions? Let us know. Production is slated to begin in February, with the movie already planned for an IMAX release.

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More: Johnny Depp, Transcendence

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  • james | December 12, 2012 7:36 AMReply

    McGregor didn't turn this down. He does anything.

  • SP1234 | December 11, 2012 9:25 PMReply

    Are Maguire, McAvoy and Waltz still being considered?

  • KEN | December 12, 2012 5:15 AM

    But Magquire can act? I saw Details recently and he was horrible in it.
    With Depp and Magquire, I'm afraid that movie tone would feel too campy. Neither of them feel like real people these days.

  • caro | December 12, 2012 4:05 AM

    McAvoy can't because he will do X-men movie at the same moment

  • 3f4t4 | December 11, 2012 9:09 PMReply

    Sounds like Brainstorm. It's a ridiculous plot concept. Typical futurist high-concept silliness that Hollywood is so infatuated with now (Oblivion, etc). And, knowing Pfister (Nolan protege), this will surely be humorless. A humorless telling of a preposterous plot

  • Jason | April 11, 2013 8:15 PM

    typical nerd hate on the internet.

  • Cate | December 11, 2012 9:04 PMReply

    This kind of reminds me of one of the plot threads in Orson Scott Card's Ender series. The details are fuzzy because I loathed his fetishization over Chinese and Portuguese culture and linguistic cues and blocked most of the A-plot from my mind; however, there was a somewhat compelling story about an artificial intelligence who resides in the ansible (intergalactic communication) network, who people tried to kill by shutting down the network. ... basically, yeah, this is not sounding like the most terribly confidence-inspiring idea to ever be pitched, but maybe execution is going to be key.

  • AS | December 11, 2012 8:51 PMReply

    This is quite honestly the dumbest idea I've ever heard. Wow.

  • Jason | December 12, 2012 1:55 AM

    Actually the plot isn't that far fetched, in fact it's a popular belief that we'll one day be able to achieve immortality by being uploaded into a computer. Look up Kurzweil 'The Singularity' to learn about future plans for uploading your brain. It's an idea originally suggested by a John Von Neumann, in the 50s, who spoke about how brain can be viewed as a computing machine.

    "a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed".

  • Yod | December 11, 2012 9:36 PM


  • caro | December 11, 2012 7:16 PMReply

    1:they want british actors
    2:Bale will do the new O Russel movie in february/march

  • timmy | December 11, 2012 10:23 PM

    caro, you are right. Christian Bale will be doing the next David O. Russell film. I am sure Joseph Gordon Levitt is available. If he wanted Anne Hathaway for the Evelyn role, she is doing the next Steven Spielberg sic-fi movie . Marion Cottilard is probably available.

  • DG | December 11, 2012 6:44 PMReply

    Sounds ambitious but likely will be incredibly hard to pull off. I'm guessing there's some kind of catch or something that is being left out of the synopsis tho. I always feel torn on the issue of AI movies in general, on the one hand I feel like THE definitive AI film has not been made yet but on the other I sort of think 2001 already exists so there's no need for this genre to anymore... No I don't really mean that, there's tons of other good ones but 2001 is best imo

  • s | December 11, 2012 7:53 PM

    about time they remade lawnmower man.

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