Self/Less Is Two Movies In One. Unforunately Neither Are That Great.
Director: Tarsem Singh.
Writer: David Pastor and Alex Pastor.
Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Sir Ben Kingsley, Matthew Goode, Natalie Martinez, Victor Garber and Derek Luke.
Opens at: Wide.
Is it me, or is technology advancing at such a rapid rate that the sci-fi concepts of yore seem like they're only a decade away from being a reality?
Beginning with Transcendence earlier this year, Self/Less, too, imagines a world where the human personality is a quantifiable concept that can be uploaded, or in this case, it's something that can be transferred between bodies.
The movie follows a wealthy-but-ill NYC real estate tycoon, Damian (Kingsley). Through a chance meeting, he winds up enlisting the services of Albright (Goode), whose organization is an expensive but altruistic one, that offers bright minds like Damian's a way to extend their time on earth. They accomplish this by helping sick people fake their deaths, then transferring their minds into new, lab-grown bodies.
It's at this point that Damian inhabits the body of Ryan Reynolds to start his life anew in New Orleans.
Through the use of some well-edited montage sequences, Damian adjusts to his new party life pretty well. He's got a great house, a stylish wardrobe and a badass car — plus, he looks like freakin' Ryan Reynolds. That's always a good thing when you're picking up ladies at a club.
Really, the only bad thing about this process seems to be the constant hallucinations that Damian has. He sees things like a desert war zone, and a flashback of a Midwestern house and a woman and child. To suppress these, he has to take a red pill which are given to him by Albright.
It's at this point that the movie shifts gears from a contemplative science fiction movie to an action thriller. And, to be pretty frank, the movie doesn't really do that great of a job at this transition. The fact that Damian is now a crazy super-spy is jarring even after you find out what happened.
Despite this, the action portion of the film is still pretty serviceable. Self/Less really shines when it takes advantage of its southern setting in Louisiana, and there's a car chase, in particular, that is the highlight of the movie, action-wise.
As mentioned before, the movie has two very tonally distinct segments but, unfortunately, it doesn't excel at either one. On the sci-fi side, the themes about identity and what the mind is are not really fully explored. In fact, they're all but dropped. Then, the action sequences are all pretty OK, but they're nothing spectacular. Really, it's a little surprising that there's not a bigger visual flourish given Singh's previous work in The Cell, The Fall and Mirror, Mirror.
If there's one truly positive thing in this movie, it is Ryan Reynold's performance. He manages to emote much more than his usual range. As Damian in this new body, he goes from being bewildered and completely uncomfortable in his new body to being a Jason Bourne-esque fighter and tactician.
For all of its outlandish concept, Self/Less loses sight of what it wants to be and ends up suffering for it. Unlike Damian's mind, this film is one that won't live on for long. In fact, the only thing Self/Less will be remembered for in a few months is just how forgettable it is.