Self/Less is a science fiction film starring Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode and Ben Kingsley. It’s directed by Tarsem Singh who has directed films in the past such as The Cell (2000). Self/Less is essentially about cheating death, when you get old, why not just buy a new body? What could possibly go wrong?
Self/Less follows the story of an aging Damian (Ben Kingsley) who is incredibly rich and powerful in the world, but is near death due to his old age and his current health. Things start looking up for him when he learns that he doesn’t have to die, he can just buy a new, much younger body. Everything is great, or is it? In comes young Damian (Ryan Reynolds) and things are great, but slowly questions begin to form in Damian’s mind. What is this body he is in and was this body a person once? What happened to them?
The films concept is really interesting and for the most part it is enough to intrigue someone from the beginning until the end. It’s got some great acting from Ben Kingsley in the beginning and is shot in some great locations such as Trump Tower. But then in comes Ryan Reynolds and out goes Ben Kingsley and things start going down hill quite quickly.
Ryan Reynolds is an okay actor, but he doesn’t do anything at all phenomenal in this movie and following Ben Kingsley seems to have been too much of a challenge. Worse yet is that after we meet young Damian (Ryan Reynolds) and he starts investigating where his body came from, the film quickly turns into a generic shoot it up action film and leaves the interesting concept and science fiction elements behind. Worse yet, it barely even builds up any of the characters at all.
Self/Less is saved somewhat, by a good performance from Matthew Goode who plays the mad scientist named Albright (the inventor of the body switching technology). But the movie goes so downhill in quality so much after Ben Kingsley leaves that it’s hard to know if the performance is a solid high point or not.
According to IMDB Self/Less only has a $26,000,000 dollar budget which is quite low considering the star power the film has in it. But in my view the low budget really let the film down quite a lot. While the Trump Tower scene looked absolutely beautiful on screen, the rest of the film does not. Some of it looks like it was filmed in the backyard of the a film studio and many of the locations looked out of place and disjointed, it really was a let down.
The science fiction side of the film is quite interesting, but the themes center strongly around a class divide argument. We are asked to think about the implications of rich people being able to buy whatever they want, to such an extent that someone could maybe one day purchase someone’s body. What impact would this have on the poorer and the vulnerable and what person would give their body up? Does it matter that this happened? Of course it does matter and there isn’t really much benefit at all as far as I could see in the film.
The directing of this was okay from Tarsem Singh and everything started out so well. But it soon all falls apart and becomes a low budget action film, filled with shootouts and car chases. I can’t bring myself to recommend Self/Less as something someone should go out and spend their hard earned money on at the cinema. The film may however bring some joy to those who rent this when it comes out, as it isn’t entirely terrible. Self/Less is just a very average film. It does have an interesting concept, some good movie stars and some okay action scenes. But it doesn’t have much going for it other than a very nice scene which was filmed in Trump tower and fairly good performance from Ben Kingsley. But both Trump Tower and Ben Kingsley are in the first 15 minutes and it’s just downhill from there, there’s not much else to say about Self/Less really.