Apple stores eventually decided that the whole "products" thing was messing with their visual style.


Apple stores eventually decided that the whole "products" thing was messing with their visual style.

TRANSCENDENCE

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. POST-APOCALYPTIC FUTURE

BILLY BURKE

Boy, society sure is different - yet surprisingly functional - since all electronic technology abruptly stopped working one day.

SIMON PEGG

You’re telling me! Wait, what the hell are you doing here? Isn’t this the last scene of The World’s End?

BILLY BURKE

I thought it was the first episode of Revolution.

PAUL BETTANY

You’re both lost! This is the prologue to Transcendence, a cerebral science fiction movie by Christopher Nolan-

BILLY BURKE

Oh, awesome!

PAUL BETTANY

-’s former cinematographer.

BILLY BURKE

(leaves)

INT. CONVENTION, THREE YEARS EARLIER

REBECCA HALL

Welcome to ExpositionCon! I’m here to introduce my husband, research scientist Johnny Depp, who will present the latest, most cutting-edge thinking in the field of AI, with paradigm-changing perspectives on the issue such as “true AI will change things” and “it raises some questions though”!

JOHNNY DEPP

(bored)

So, artificial intelligence or whatever. Self-awareness, what is a soul, blah blah blah.

REBECCA HALL

Honey, are you all right? You look like you popped like twenty Xanax.

JOHNNY DEPP

It’s fine. I just got tired of people saying all I do these days is “off-the-wall”, so I’m trying out the other extreme and doing “incredibly uninteresting” for a change.

After the presentation, JOHNNY gets SHOT by a member of a CRAZY NEO-LUDDITE CULT.

WHACK JOB

Surprise, this is part of a synchronized attack by our balls-crazy organization, RIFT! In addition to publicly shooting you, we’re strangling another AI researcher in his office, and blowing up a lab somewhere, and wiping out another lab with poisoned cake!

JOHNNY DEPP

I see your murder committee had trouble coming to a resolution.

WHACK JOB

Oy, you have no idea. Like, half of us were all “Let’s shoot Johnny!”, but the other half were all “No let’s give him radiation poisoning!”, and in the end we had to just compromise with radioactive bullets. Now, to make myself look even crazier and further undermine our political message,

(blows own brains out)

JOHNNY DEPP

Crap, I’m dying from bullet radiation now. I’m going to quit my research so I can use my remaining days to spend some valuable time with my wife.

REBECCA HALL

OR, we could both spend the entire rest of your life in a workaholic frenzy trying to upload your brain to a computer so that after you croak I can be married to a virtual simulation of you instead!

JOHNNY DEPP

Eh, that works too I guess.

INT. MAKESHIFT LAB, SEVERAL WEEKS LATER

REBECCA and PAUL do science on JOHNNY until he DIES, and subsequently REBOOTS on a SUPERCOMPUTER.

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Whoa, my consciousness has been converted into a powerful AI! What a striking premise for a work of science fiction, huh? Is your mind not reeling with the philosophical ramifications?

REBECCA HALL

You don’t seriously think this is an original concept worth devoting an entire movie to, do you? You’re basically GLaDOS. Fuck that, you’re Max Headroom! The Lawnmower Man already did this plot, and that movie was dumb as rocks!

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Yeah well, you can find a precursor for pretty much any sci-fi concept if you look hard enough-

REBECCA HALL

Dude, you can go literally one theater over and watch Captain America 2 use this premise in a throwaway five-minute subplot.

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Hmmm. I guess we’re really going to have to dig deep and come up with a fresh take on the material, then... oh, I know! What if I turn out to have an ominous God complex?

REBECCA HALL

I think one or two movies may have already-

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

NEED MORE POWER! PLUG ME INTO THE INTERNET I WANT TO TAKE OVER WALL STREET - whoops, meant to ease into that a bit more subtly. Oh well, can’t unring that bell.

PAUL BETTANY

This doesn’t bode well. How do we even know this is Johnny, not some amoral electronic consciousness that thinks it’s him or is pretending to be him?

REBECCA HALL

Come on, of course it’s Johnny! Can’t you recognize Johnny’s flat voice, blank expression and general lack of emotion or personality? ...Okay maybe this could go either way.

PAUL BETTANY

I say it’s too risky! Let’s shut him down, destroying one of the most important technological breakthroughs in history and arguably committing a form of murder!

REBECCA HALL

Well I say we upload him to the internet, giving a powerful unknown intelligence the capability to destroy civilization as we know it!

SENSIBLE CHARACTER

Or, here’s a crazy thought: you could do neither of those things. Just give this situation at least, say, half an hour’s study before you run with either of those potentially terrible ideas. Just throwing that out there.

REBECCA HALL

Hey, there aren’t any sensible characters in Transcendence! Get out of this abridged script, you fraud!

(to Paul)

And you, Mr. Johnny-switcher-offer, you fuck off too!

PAUL BETTANY

Uh, yeah right. I’m concerned that you’re about to trigger the downfall of human civilization, do you really think if you just say “go away” I’ll turn tail and go get hammered at a bar-

INT. BAR

PAUL BETTANY

...Well this is pathetic.

KATE MARA

Hey, stranger! Could I have a word?

PAUL BETTANY

Really not in the mood right now.

KATE MARA

Welp, I think we can all agree I’ve exhausted the limits of diplomacy. KIDNAPPING SQUAD, ASSEMBLE!

KATE and her fellow RIFT members KIDNAP PAUL. Then they use his PHONE to track down JOHNNY AND REBECCA’S SECRET LAB.

REBECCA HALL

Oh shit, they’ve come to shut us down and I haven’t even started uploading Johnny to the internet!

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

It’s okay, we can totally put the entire contents of a human brain online in the time it takes them to get through the front door, since I guess we have an upload speed of like fifty terabytes a second.

REBECCA puts JOHNNY online and runs for it.

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Awright, now to cast my will across the internet! Eh? Did you see what I did there? CAST my WILL?

(pause)

Wait, did I mention that my character name in the movie is Will Caster? I should have mentioned that.

JOHNNY leaps into the FBI’S COMPUTERS and shows them exactly where and how to arrest most of RIFT.

REBECCA HALL

Wow, awesome! You want to spare like another couple minutes of your infinite knowledge and intellect to expose any other dangerous criminal or terrorist organizations?

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Nah.

He then hops onto WALL STREET and rapidly earns REBECCA about a QUADZILLION DOLLARS.

REBECCA HALL

Also nice... uh, anybody else you feel like making money for? Any charities or disaster relief or, you know... I mean, since this is like zero effort for you...

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Naaahhh.

INT. FBI

FBI AGENT CILLIAN MURPHY is watching all his FBI COMPUTER MONITORS having RIFT SEIZURES.

CILLIAN MURPHY

We’ve been hacked by some unknown intelligence! We need your advice on this, Johnny’s friend who is another gifted AI researcher but who is more cautious about the potential dangers of the technology.

MORGAN FREEMAN

Uh, if you’re looking for Paul Bettany, I think he just got kidnapped.

CILLIAN MURPHY

Damn straight he did. That’s why we need there to be two of you.

INT. RIFT HEADQUARTERS

The REMNANTS OF RIFT have holed up in a secluded HIDEOUT and have brought PAUL with them.

KATE MARA

So Paul, according to some articles you wrote, you feel that creation of a true AI could potentially have negative consequences for human society. So clearly you’ll want to join our psychotic terrorist murder squad, yes?

PAUL BETTANY

Seriously? After all the colleagues of mine you’ve shot, strangled, blown up and cake-poisoned, what the hell makes you think I’d ever even consider-

(STOCKHOLM’D)

Oh fine then. What’s the plan?

KATE MARA

Our intel says Rebecca’s suddenly a jillionaire and she’s used the money to buy up a small town in the middle of nowhere and is starting work on some kind of top-secret base. Even to us, this sounds pretty terroristy.

PAUL BETTANY

Hmm, God knows what Johnny might be up to. Clearly the best way to stop him is to reveal to the world what a threat he is. Of course, we can’t expose him until he’s actually done stuff to expose, so first we sit idly by and let him do all the things he’s plotting, THEN we try and stop him. Does... does that make sense?

KATE MARA

What? No! We can’t just sit on our asses and wait, we’ve got to act NOW-

TWO YEARS pass.

KATE MARA

...Are you fucking KIDDING ME?!

EXT. FIELD OF INFINITE SOLAR PANELS

JOHNNY has set up a SUPERLAB.

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

So in the past two years I’ve perfected nanotechnology! Behold my microscopic self-replicating anything-eating machines designed to invade the human body!

REBECCA HALL

Ah, so we’re spicing up our bog-standard AI-pocalypse by mashing in a bit of slightly-less-overused nanobot apocalypse.

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Pretty much. Look, I already used them to cure some injuries in our contractor Clifton Collins Jr, as well as give him superhuman strength. And, ooh, check this out:

CLIFTON COLLINS JR.

It’s me, Johnny! I turned Clifton into a meat puppet! Nanobots in his brain, making him do stuff, la de da!

(does jig)

REBECCA HALL

EWWWW.

CLIFTON COLLINS JR.

Wait, have I done something wrong? If I’ve crossed some line or other, now would be an ideal time to just explain as much.

REBECCA HALL

(running away)

EWWWWW!

CLIFTON COLLINS JR.

Oh well, if I was violating some kind of basic human ethics, I’m sure she would have at least attempted to reason with me.

(released by Johnny)

Woah, these nanobots are awesome! I get super strength, and only have to put up with a vast invisible intelligence monitoring my every move and occasionally overriding my will! I’m gonna tell all my friends to get assimilated, this’ll be BOSS.

INT. UNDERGROUND LAB

REBECCA invites CILLIAN and MORGAN in to see the LAB.

CILLIAN MURPHY

Thanks for having us over.

REBECCA HALL

Don’t mention it. To be honest, I’m surprised you never came over to have a look until now. I mean, weren’t you investigating Johnny? And even if you weren’t, doesn’t the FBI usually take an interest when a civilian mysteriously comes into a couple hundred million dollars? Or when they start an extremely large-scale, hush-hush construction project in the ass-end of nowhere?

CILLIAN MURPHY

Yeah well, I guess I’m some kind of vampire cop who can only enter a building if he’s been invited.

REBECCA HALL

Well it’s all moot anyway, as we clearly have nothing to hide. Now let me show you our extremely illegal unlicensed facility where we conduct radical medical experiments on human test subjects without any government oversight.

CILLIAN MURPHY

...

REBECCA HALL

Oh, and if you’re thinking this looks a lot like a super soldier project? Well it’s not. It’s just a lab which, in the course of its research, happens to have churned out the odd super soldier here and there.

CILLIAN MURPHY

OKAY, I think we’ve seen enough.

CILLIAN and MORGAN leave in a hurry.

CILLIAN MURPHY

So yeah, Johnny’s got to be stopped. Since he lives on the internet, obviously we’ll have to destroy every single computer on the face of the planet.

MORGAN FREEMAN

Um, OVERREACTING MUCH?! The only legitimately dangerous parts of Johnny’s operation we’ve seen are his private army and his nanobot lab, both of which are contained within a couple square miles nicely isolated from populated areas. Give your findings to your superiors, they’ll shut that shit down in half an afternoon, WITHOUT ending civilization.

CILLIAN MURPHY

Screw that, I’m trying for a record for most different types of apocalypse in one movie.

EXT. RIFT HEADQUARTERS

MORGAN shows up to meet with PAUL.

MORGAN FREEMAN

So uh, apparently the FBI are roping terrorists into this fucked-up operation of theirs. Can you help us?

PAUL BETTANY

We could do that. Or instead YOU could help US pull off our own completely half-assed attack on Johnny’s lab.

MORGAN FREEMAN

This I will do for some reason.

RIFT go and bomb JOHNNY’S SOLAR PANELS.

KATE MARA

Ha, we blew up like a dozen of your umpteen bajillion solar panels! That’ll learn ya! Now to shoot some of your super-soldiers, which won’t have any noticeable impact on your evil plans but WILL kill a bunch of people who have only ever used their superpowers to do construction work!

PAUL BETTANY

Seriously, why do I hang out with these guys?

RIFT shoots the SUPER-SOLDIERS, but then NANOBOTS just leak out of the GROUND and HEAL THEM. But then they trick CLIFTON into running into a makeshift FARADAY CAGE.

KATE MARA

Aha, you’re disconnected from Johnny and have thus ceased to be a threat!

(shoots him to pieces)

Why the FUCK did we do that?!

CLIFTON COLLINS JR.

Ack, unfortunately my nanobots need a steady internet connection for their healing powers to work, because apparently Johnny uses Microsoft logic!

(dies)

PAUL BETTANY

But hey, we got a sample of the nanobots from his blood, and now we’ve hacked into them... somehow? It seems we have the tech to interface with experimental microscopic robots.

KATE MARA

Awesome, now we have Johnny’s source code! That’s the source code for the most hyper-advanced AI on the planet. Installed on a machine the size of a dust mite’s armpit.

PAUL BETTANY

So now we just have to - in this makeshift guerilla camp, over the next twenty-four hours - engineer a computer virus that’ll crash said hyper-advanced AI everywhere it’s installed in the entire world. Piece of cake!

MORGAN FREEMAN

Good work, that’s much better than Cillian’s Destroy All Computers plan.

PAUL BETTANY

Oh, that’ll still happen. When we crash Johnny, any device that’s running him as a background program will be rendered permanently inoperable.

MORGAN FREEMAN

Right, just like how when Firefox freezes you have to throw your laptop away. Seriously, even if all the infected hard drives were irreparably corrupted somehow, surely putting a brand-new hard drive into your machine would allow it to-

PAUL BETTANY

No no no, this is a MAGIC virus. This virus will fucking fry your motherboard. It’ll set your graphics card on fire. You’ll be lucky if it doesn’t leap out the USB ports and eat the cat.

INT. UNDERGROUND LAB

REBECCA is getting increasingly nervous of JOHNNY’S EXPONENTIALLY GROWING CREEPINESS.

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Is something wrong, honey? Your heartrate and perspiration suggest extreme anxiety.

REBECCA HALL

You’re monitoring my vitals?! I’ve never been so incensed! How dare you use physiological clues to gauge my mood, like human beings do every day! My blood pressure is PRIVATE, damnit!

C:\JOHNNYDEPP.EXE

Okay, it’s pretty obvious I’m trying my best here and want nothing more than to make you happy. If I’m messing up, explain why what I'm doing is wrong, or just tell me straight up what not to do, just OPEN A FUCKING DIALOGUE ALREADY.

REBECCA HALL

Bah, dating a computer is no fun at all! You lied to me, Spike Jonze!

REBECCA runs away. While on the run, she gets abducted by RIFT.

EXT. RIFT HEADQUARTERS

PAUL BETTANY

Rebecca, Johnny’s seeded the clouds with his mind-controlling nanobots! He’s contaminated the skies and rivers and groundwater, and we estimate within a few days he’ll have global saturation!

REBECCA HALL

Are you really basing all that on this one puddle of rainwater? Or does RIFT have hundreds of agents out there conducting an extensive ecological survey?

PAUL BETTANY

I dunno, but we need to shut Johnny down immediately. We’ll put our virus into you, and you can go get him to assimilate you so he can get infected.

REBECCA HALL

(clutching forehead to prevent migraine)

Put the virus into... okay, what the fuck does that even mean? Are you going to inject the data into me? Am I going to read the code and then just think about it real hard? HOW THE HELL DO YOU PUT A COMPUTER VIRUS INTO A PERSON?

PAUL BETTANY

Offscreen somehow.

EXT. FIELD OF INFINITE SOLAR PANELS

REBECCA shows up and finds that JOHNNY has built himself a whole new BODY.

REBECCA HALL

Hi honey! I’ve decided I want to be part of your hive mind after all.

JOHNNY DEPP

You're such a lying liar.

REBECCA HALL

Whoops, that’s right, you can read my physiology, can’t you? So trying to trick you is kind of a fucking stupid idea, isn’t it.

JOHNNY DEPP

Well there’s that. I was more referring to the fact that you ran away in a creeped-out panic then came back the next day accompanied by federal agents and crazy terrorists and basically everybody who wants me dead. Bit of a giveaway.

CILLIAN MURPHY

Fuck, he’s seen through our paper-thin ruse! Commence the bombing!

The FBI/RIFT COALLITION starts firing MORTARS at JOHNNY and REBECCA.

HIVE MIND SUPER SOLDIERS

Hey look at that, they’re shelling our base and our wife. Let’s wait and see where they’re going with this.

A MORTAR explodes near REBECCA, mortally wounding her.

HIVE MIND SUPER SOLDIERS

Okay that does it. Let’s start casually wandering towards those guys.

As the SUPER SOLDIERS saunter towards the FBI and RIFT at a leisurely pace, JOHNNY whisks REBECCA down into the LAB.

KATE MARA

Johnny, I know you can hear me through your soldiers! Upload the virus or I kill Paul!

JOHNNY DEPP

Oh no, who do I save? My beloved wife? Or a former colleague whose only interactions with me over the past couple of years have been him repeatedly trying to destroy me?

REBECCA HALL

Can’t you heal me, then upload the virus?

JOHNNY DEPP

No, after the bombing this facility only has enough power to do one or the other!

REBECCA HALL

A power failure, seriously? The bombs only took out a fifth of a per cent of your solar panels! And they’re self-repairing! And a solar energy system stores up energy by design, otherwise the facility would die every time the sun went down!

JOHNNY DEPP

Well maybe the facility itself is damaged and that’s where the problem is.

REBECCA HALL

This facility is like ten stories underground! Trying to knock it out by mortaring the surface is like trying to knock out the engine of an armored car by shooting BB pellets at the windscreen!

JOHNNY DEPP

I don’t know, we just need this to be a dilemma alright?

JOHNNY chooses PAUL for some reason and assimilates REBECCA and her VIRUS.

JOHNNY DEPP

See, by choosing to save my friend’s life I proved my humanity. I really was the real Johnny all along!

REBECCA HALL

So the real Johnny also had no idea why overriding people’s brains and using them as a zombie army was a bad thing? Man, real Johnny was messed up.

(dies)

JOHNNY DEPP

(dies)

All the world’s TECHNOLOGY DIES. The AUDIENCE is invited to please not consider all the PLANE CRASHES and TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS and HOSPITALS GONE TO CHAOS and general DEATH AND MAYHEM.

SNAKE PLISSKEN

Yeah, I could’ve warned you that this wasn’t a great idea.

END.

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