Cinematographer Wally Pfister first teamed up with Christopher Nolan on Memento, and he’s been a vital part of the director’s team ever since. On films like The Dark Knight and Inception, Pfister’s Oscar-winning visual sensibilities allowed Nolan to crystallize his brand of thinking-person’s blockbuster. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that when it came time for Pfister to step away and direct a film himself, he opted for a big-budget thriller straight from the Nolan playbook.

From a distance, Transcendence has all the earmarks of success. It stars several Nolan mainstays, features the same kind of meticulous photography and production design we’ve come to expect, and mixes a high-concept premise with an intimate emotional core. But the comparisons end there, as the film collapses into a shambling mess of ’90s cyber-paranoia and action tropes that not even the charisma of Johnny Depp can redeem.