Dan's Review: "Self/Less" nothing to get excited about
Jul 09, 2015 05:34PM, Published by Dan Metcalf, Categories: Arts+Entertainment
Ryan Reynolds in Self/less - © 2015 - Focus Features
Self/Less (Focus Features)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, some sexuality, and language.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Matthew Goode, Michelle Dockery, Natalie Martinez, Victor Garber, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Derek Luke, Thomas Francis Murphy, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Emily Tremaine, Brendan McCarthy.
Written by David Pastor and Àlex Pastor.
Directed by Tarsem Singh.
They say money can’t buy you happiness, but that doesn’t stop movie studios from trying to make more and more of it. Maybe those execs are doing all they can to research the idea, which is why they keep churning out films like Self/Less, yet another sci-fi/tech thriller in a string of many.
Ben Kingsley stars as Damian, a ruthless, wealthy New York aristocrat/developer who is dying of cancer. Estranged from his idealistic daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery), Damian refuses to accept his fate and employs the services of Professor Albright (Matthew Goode), who runs a secret, high-tech “shedding” operation that allows people to transfer their consciousness into another host body; a body “grown” in a lab. Damian forks over millions and goes through the transformation, ending up in a brand new, younger body (played by Ryan Reynolds). The new Damian indulges in all the pleasures of being young and attractive until he starts to experience flashbacks of a soldier’s life, complete with a wife and daughter. Suspicious, “New” Damian researches some of the images from the flashbacks, which draw him to a farm outside St. Louis.
When he gets to the farm, he discovers that the new body wasn’t grown, but that it once belonged to a young father married to Madeline (Natalie Martinez) with a daughter named Anna (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen). Coinciding with his arrival, a group of thugs try to capture him and kill off the wife and daughter. The killers are working for Prof. Albright, who is trying to keep the realities of his “shedding” operation secret, due to obvious ethical and legal reasons. On the run and using the army training from the younger man’s consciousness, New Damian protects his former family as he tries to track down Albright and get answers.
Self/Less has a few exciting moments and should prompt a little ethical reflection, but its contrived science and predictable outcome render it mediocre, at best.
Ryan Reynolds does a fine job as an action hero, while Kingsley and Goode give the movie a little gravitas, but not enough to avoid boredom in between flashes of action and anticlimactic anticipation of the inevitable conclusion.