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Clearly indicating that a full trailer must be around the corner, Transcendence shared two promotional images with, giving us our first official look at Johnny Depp’s character in director Wally Pfister’s upcoming techno-thriller. Depp holds center court in the above photo, talking into a microphone as he likely gives a seminar on some complicated neuro-science. The below shot gives us a closer look at a few of Depp’s supporting cast. More on them in a moment.

Transcendence Cast

Transcendence is Pfister’s directorial debut, and if you know his filmography, you can understand why this image looks familiar. The Oscar-winning cinematographer has lensed Christopher Nolan’s greatest efforts, from the Batman trilogy to Insomnia, The Prestige and, of course, Inception. Which might help explain why that image, with the eye-distorting placement of its production values, has a little Inception nod working to its advantage.

We don’t get Leonardo DiCaprio or Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the shot, though. Pfister lures a few other Nolan veterans for his film. Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy join Depp for what promises to be a head-scratching adventure. And the woman in the image is Rebecca Hall, a newcomer to the Pfister (by-way-of-Nolan) universe, but definitely a spunky actress who can hold her own in effects-driven blockbusters. (See: Iron Man 3.)

Pfister talked a little bit about his movie with EW, telling them that it’s about a scientist (Depp) who is studying the moment when and where Artificial Intelligence will take over human intelligence. Over the course of the story, Depp’s character gets uploaded into the mainframe of an operating system after he is attacked by anti-technology activists for his controversial research. Of the movie, and his actor, Pfister says:
"It’s a very timely subject, as we find we have to update the software on our cell phones before we can even make a call. … [Plus], I don’t think we’ve seen [Depp] this way in a long time. Just a pair of glasses on and a pretty normal haircut."

But not a normal movie. Transcendence has the potential of being an Inception-level thriller, occupying several levels and engaging audiences’ brains instead of just their pulses. However, just because you shoot Nolan’s pictures doesn’t make you Nolan. Can Pfister construct a complicated techno-thriller that stands up to scrutiny, with an A-lister like Depp becoming this generation’s Max Headroom while Freeman, Murphy and Hall stand around looking worried? It’s a gamble, for sure. But Pfister has earned the right to try his hand at storytelling. And given his track record, at the very least, we know Transcendence is going to look fantastic. The movie hits theaters on April 18. I believe a trailer will drop very soon. Are you interested?

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