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[Review] – ‘Self/Less’


Release Date: 10 July 2015 [USA]
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writer: David Pastor - Àlex Pastor [Screenplay]
Cast: Ryan Reynolds - Ben Kingsley - Natalie Martinez - Matthew Goode



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User Rating
2 total ratings


Posted July 27, 2015 by

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Damien Hale (Ben Kingsley) is a wealthy New York property tycoon. He’s also got less than a year to live, thanks to a terminal illness. Damien then receives information on an amazing new medical procedure called “shedding”, capable of transferring the consciousness of one body into another.

Damien undergoes the procedure and emerges in a body half his age. He’s not long into his new lease of life before strange things begin happening. Damien starts to have visions but he’s told they are simply hallucinations. Yet Damien suspects the visions may in fact be memories not his own.

Ben Kingsley is sadly not around long enough in this movie. He plays the ailing Damien with assuring confidence and crams into a brief performance swagger, caring, condescension and much reflection. Then we get zapped into Ryan Reynolds. As a result of Kingsley’s short screen time, we have little of him to compare to Reynold’s Damien whom we spend the rest of the movie with. It’s easy to forget they both play the same character.

Ryan Reynolds performs with unusual gravity, his comic quick-talking completely absent. Instead he shows restraint and utter seriousness, all the while looking infuriatingly handsome (he’s dressed most of the time like a Burberry model). He brings the pain too, especially in one stand-out moment when he kicks a henchman’s head through a toilet. With Reynolds playing Damien, his actions become difficult to understand. More on that in a bit.

Mathew Goode is made of wood. Well, his character is anyway. As the “shedding” pioneer Albright, his lines are emotionless and it is painfully obvious from the beginning that he’s hiding villainous secrets.

Tonally, Self/Less is all over the place. The movie’s first act travels in a montage-crazy, break-neck pace with a feel similar to Limitless. It can be bloody dizzying but your attention is held throughout. The pace slows for the rest of the movie and Self/Less begins to feel like a bad Bourne rip-off. SPOILER ALERT for the next paragraph but honestly, if you’ve seen the trailer, the alert is pointless.

Turns out the new body Damien receives had a past of its own, not to mention a grieving family. When Damien gets stuck with them, the movie gets bogged down and never regains its initial pace. There are some touching moments where characters young and old bond but they feel out of place. Had a greater focus on family relations been established and maintained these scenes may have played smoother.

The writing is a mess. While the concept is enticing, it doesn’t yield enough to fill a two hour run-time. It’s a mystery why Damien is so quick to care about his new body’s old family (especially when he cared so little for his own for so long).

Women get a bad deal in Self/Less, being portrayed as either flabbergasted damsels or eye-candy. Also, Goode’s cardboard cut-out villain may be a scientific genius but he can’t hire henchmen for shit. One minute, they yell orders that Damien has to be taken in alive. The next minute, they’re screaming, “Shoot him!” And finally, why are there flamethrowers?! Was Albright worried about some John Carpenter shit turning up in his lab?

Self/Less kicks off at a captivating start but soon stumbles and never recovers, swerving between sci-fi, thriller and drama yet failing to nail down its tone. Reynolds performs admirably despite working with a poorly written part. Perhaps Self/Less needed a little shedding of its own.


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Written by:


Michael Keyes
Silences Band
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