The latest trailer for Transcendence, the upcoming science fiction thriller directed by former Christopher Nolan cinematographer/DP Wally Pfister, hit the internet yesterday. And while it had a lot of the basic components we’d already seen, there were also some surprising elements that suggest the flick will be a bit crazier than we expected. We already knew the basics: Johnny Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, a scientist working on the fringes of artificial intelligence, advancing mankind toward what’s often referred to as “the singularity” — the creation of an artificial mind that achieves sentience and far surpasses humanity in intelligence. A fringe anti-tech group doesn’t take kindly to that, and an assassination attempt against Caster leaves him terminally ill. Facing his own mortality, Caster convinces his wife (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max (Paul Bettany) to help him upload his mind into a supercomputer. Then they all live happily ever after, right?
Warning: spoilers and speculation below!
With Will’s mind freed from his body, Transcendence would be set to play out like an updated version of The Lawnmower Man, with nigh-absolute power corrupting Will nigh-absolutely. From the look of things, however, his powers aren’t going to be limited just to tooling around the internet, hacking into power grids or nuclear launch systems. Shots in the trailer suggest that he may soon begin building himself new physical bodies, not to mention performing unsavory experiments on other, presumably unwilling, human subjects.
There are also some hints that Caster might be leveraging his power in the physical world via “grey goo,” swarms of nanites that can alter, build, or break down just about anything. We see lots of this happening in shots of what appears to be a solar power farm of some sort. It’s up to interpretation, of course, but we do see some sort of silvery goop that appears to be disintegrating the solar panels and even defying gravity. Whatever’s going on, it’s clear that the solar collector setting is going to be the crux of a major action set piece, complete with explosions and levitating dudes.
We know who Depp, Hall, and Bettany are playing, but Nolan staples Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy are also on hand in some capacity. My longtime fanboy crush Kate Mara is along for the ride as well, and we can make some educated guesses about her based on what we see in the latest trailer. She appears to be on hand during the hit on Depp, although it doesn’t look like she’s the one pulling the trigger. She sports different hair colors or wigs at different times, so she’s probably somebody trying to live on the down-low. I’m guessing she’s a member of the luddite/anti-tech group, possibly one who turns to Caster’s ex and Max once it becomes clear that the intelligence formerly known as Will has become a clear and present danger to…well, pretty much everybody on the planet.
You can check out tons more screenshots from the trailer below. Transcendence is due in theaters on April 18.