Self/less barely makes an effort and compensates with a star powered cast, but no actor – Academy Award winner or not – can save this lazily assembled sci-fi movie.
In this provocative psychological science fiction thriller, an extremely wealthy man (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley) dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds). But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origin and the secret organization that will kill to protect its cause. (C) Focus
Self/less has interesting ideas from a potential premise but opts to be a blockbuster flick. However, this aspiration isn’t given enough effort to be even passable.
The already predictable plot doesn’t make any creative use of “shedding” (which as expected comes with questionable logic and gaping holes). The fictional fact that they transplanted a consciousness – which modern science is still trying to understand – already provides a lot of opportunities to explore identity and build action around it. Instead, the plot settles for inconsequential seizure-like episodes which render Edward unconscious but still able to easily fend off his enemies through generic action scenes. The stereotypical British villain and his organisation doesn’t pose much of a threat.
It’s not because Albright is an incompetent CEO. Other characters aren’t unlikeable either. You can’t expect much characterization in a blockbuster flick, but the more than capable cast has nothing interesting to work with and to do. They’re given one trait and thrown into a thriller that doesn’t even provide modest thrills and memorable imagery.
There’s minimal investment in production design and cinematography. The supposed secret and powerful organisation – which charges 250 million per client – has a single operational facility that would have been a small temporary outpost by S.H.I.E.L.D (see: Thor). They don’t a have tracking system and relies on limited recycled manpower, which has a brotherhood of some sort that could have given the organisation some identity but sneaked past audiences. The innovative machine used in the radical medical procedure is obviously just a CT scanner outfitted with rotating rings and flashing lights. The cinematography doesn’t give any memorable visuals that could at least distract the audience from the poorly written script and settles with basic flashbacks.
The movie eventually devolves into a predictable second rate action flick with a cheat ending. The lead character literally woke up from what can be considered as a mental coma and whatever happened to him end up as a forgotten dream.
Ryan Reynolds has proven to be a decent actor (see: The Voices) but somehow ends up with poorly written, directed and/or produced movies that turn him into box office poison. Does he have bad taste in movies or someone needs to be fired?
Self/less doesn’t make an effort at all to be interesting and can’t even address basic questions – should Damien trust these memories? why would a real estate mogul who built New York give a damn about a guy who voluntarily donated himself? after all, it’s just another business transaction.
There’s an interesting angle about supremacy and elitism in the unethical practice of the medical procedure – why care for millions of nobodies who will amount to nothing but propagate a clone of themselves and take more up space, when you can extend the life of people who truly make a difference?
Sadly, Self/less prefers to coast on action and a star powered cast, but they have nothing interesting to deliver either. Essentially what you have is a below average should have been straight to DVD movie and Netflix feature. Maybe Deadpool would finally give Reynolds a break.
My Rating: 3/10