Self/less Not Completely Thrill Filled, But Still a Good Ride

Posted by at 8:00 am on July 10, 2015


Self/less tries to be a high tech sci-fi story, but without much of the supporting material needed for today’s more tech savvy audience. For sure it is a thriller about body swapping and eternal youth for the rich. While asking in a heavy-handed manner, what are the moral costs of “extending your life’?

So while the core premise of movie is well traveled, it is still intriguing.

Successful New York real estate magnate Damian (Ben Kingsley) has lived a life of prosperity, thanks to hard work and cunning business tactics, going so as far to be ruthless, if that is what it takes to win. Now, he realizes that his wealth and power came at a cost. (Yes, this is sounding more than a little like many movies you have seen before.) Even though he is surrounded by devoted employees like Martin (Victor Garber) and is dying very soon, he is lonely, and estranged from his only child. Battling terminal cancer, Damian reflects on his life, attempting to reconcile the mistakes he’s made – and face his inevitable death.

When a mysterious business card appears on his desk, Damian discovers that death might not be as inevitable as he may have believed. Thanks to a revolutionary surgical procedure known as “Shedding,” discovered by genius researcher, Albright (Matthew Goode), Damian is given a new chance at life.



Albright will transfer Hale’s consciousness into a healthy young body created in the Phoenix lab. The company’s CEO depicts this trans-human undertaking as a service to humanity: “Just think of all the great minds we’ve lost, just because their bodies failed them.”   This point is lost on me, while Hale is a great business man, I don’t think that puts his mind in the league of greatness of say, a Churchill, Einstein, etc. Of course, there are caveats. Damian is forbidden to have any contact with people from his “former” life and must become a completely new person.

So Hale is dispatched to New Orleans, where he fakes his own death and is then wheeled into an off the books, ad hoc medical facility where, after some spinning-light effects, he wakes up in the body of Ryan Reynolds

After his consciousness is transferred into the healthy fresh body (Ryan Reynolds), Damian sets out to experience life anew – until he discovers that Albright’s revolutionary procedure comes with unexpected side effects. The whole beautiful new body routine comes with some quirks, including the need to take daily pills to keep his mind stable, otherwise he starts seeing visions of a mysterious woman, Madeline (Natalie Martinez) and a young girl, Anna (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen)and life events that he never lived. Once Damian (now also known as Edward) start connecting the dots and investigating the information he sees in his visions the roller coaster ride begins.



Self/less also features appearances from several well-known actors in supporting roles, including Victor Garber (The Flash) who’s performance stole the show for me.  Others include Derek Luke (Empire), Natalie Martinez (Under the Dome), and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) – all of whom receive limited but well used screen time to lay the foundation on which to explore Damian’s journey. Speaking of foundations, Ben Kingsley’s early setup of Damian Hale as a character provided an appropriate base from which Ryan Reynolds was able to do a good job of carrying through the core qualities of Damian to the end of the story.

On the strong side this thriller moves fast and offers plenty of twists and turns. Sadly, many of the key ones you can see coming from a mile away.  Also on the plus side Self/less never stays too long in any one moment to bore the audience.  On the negative side, and despite the fast pacing, it can still can be a little too heavy hand in dishing out the morality.

The film is directed by visionary Tarsem Singh (The Cell) and cinematography is solid all the way.  Those hoping that for more dramatic lighting or angles which made the Cell such a visual treat, will be wanting more in the visual department than the Self/less gives. Singh also tried to put a lot of action into the film with multiple fights and a couple of attempts at big auto chase scenes which were capably executed but not up to the standards that meets the expectations of big-budget action pics, if that is the audience he’s going for. (It made me wonder if at some point during principal shooting he got notes to “add more action”.)

Rating 3.0

While Self/less has it’s flaws, it is still an enjoyable ride for a summer audience. With the strong supporting cast it has and Ryan Reynolds acting better than he has in some of his more recent fair.  The movie could have given more worthwhile insight into aging, family, immortality and death, but to do that the directing and the script, would have needed to up the Sci-fi and rely less on the action, to make this thriller into a strong Sci-fi thriller which could left the audience asking more questions long after leaving their seats to go home.

Self/less runs 116 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, some sexuality, and language. Now playing in theaters.

Leave a Reply

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign up to receive breaking news
as well as receive other site updates

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Log in

Copyright © 2008 - 2022 · StreetCorner Media , LLC· All Rights Reserved ·