Coupled with the fact that the film begins with a flash forward before jumping back to how it all began, it robs the film of any suspense. Indeed, once Will is a computer there is very little by way of dramatic momentum, and by the time the energetic third act comes along it's too little, too late. Worse than that, there are a number of plot holes which make Pfister's Transcendence easy to pull apart. If you're going to have a two year time jump, you need to make sure you have all your bases covered. In this regard, the lack of a media presence or seemingly any government hierarchy is suspect. The world of the film - beautifully shot though it may be - feels small for issues which have globe-spanning ramifications.
An outside view of Will and Evelyn's off-the-grid experiment comes from stock characters inhabited by Kate Mara and fellow Nolan alumni Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy. It all amounts to a lot of wasted talent, with character development in short supply. As for Depp, his past charm and eccentricity nowhere to be found, and the difference between his human and digital personae is minuscule. The standout performers are easily Hall and Bettany; the former handles the emotional drama convincingly throughout, while Bettany's Max is by far the most well-rounded character of the piece. That's not a high bar to clear, however, and can't save Transcendence from being a dull and uninvolving affair.