An extremely wealthy elderly man dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness to the body of a healthy young man but everything may not be as good as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body's origins and the secret organization that will kill to keep its secrets.
ActorsStarring: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode, Michelle Dockery, Melora Hardin, Victor Garber, Sam Page, Derek Luke, Mariana Paola Vicente, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Brendan McCarthy, Thomas Francis Murphy, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Emily Tremaine, Griff Furst, Cedric Palmisano, Tom Waite, Douglas M. Griffin, Marcus Lyle Brown, Teri Wyble, Gary Weeks, Kristin Erickson, Dakota Buchanan, Robert Harvey, Dylan Lowe, Jimmy Gonzales, Jesica Ahlberg, Dacia Fernandez, Hannah Jelinovic, Ashley Laliberty, Anna Dudnik, Big Freedia, Antionique Price, Stephanie Bertrand, Shelby Skipper, Alvin Santana, Rashod Singleton, Keiton Crump, Clay Chamberlin, Kate Ransome Wilcox, Julian Niccolini, Mariah Quintana
Tarsem Singh started directing music videos and TV commercials, and his eye for striking imagery got him into film directing. His debut feature was The Cell (2000), followed by The Fall (2006), both movies with absolutely beautiful cinematography (and I believe they also shared some of the same extraordinary film locations in the Namibian desert), simply gorgeous to watch on the biggest screen you can find. Both movies however suffered from a weak storyline, even if the entire plot of The Fall was about storytelling. Actually The Cell is probably a better movie than it gets credit for, and The Fall is well overrated. But I digress.
Whilst Self/less feels a bit more mature in that the imagery is less of the pure dream-like quality of The Cell and The Fall, and the concept it introduces has significant potential, Singh again doesn’t really manage to hit it home.
Self/less is the story of Damian (Ben Kingsley), an older real estate magnate with billions in the bank who is dying of cancer when he finds out about ‘shedding’. A procedure where for a mere $250m, a company Phoenix Biogenics Corporation will be able to transfer his consciousness from his dying body to a brand-spanking new lab-grown one, which would give him a new lease of life. Having literally nothing to lose, Damian goes for it. After the procedure and after he has trained up his new body (now played by Ryan Reynolds), he starts partying the night away, sleeping with any woman he can find to catch up on the last 30 years. When Damian misses taking his daily medication he starts to get strange hallucinations. Phoenix Biogenics’ President, played by Matthew Goode, explains that this is normal and the medication should avoid his body rejecting his new consciousness, just like a body may reject any transplanted limb or organ. When the hallucinations happen more often, Damian begins to suspect his new body has a memory of its own…
The set-up of the movie is solid and Ben Kingsley plays a credible older and dying Damian; it may be a bit of a stretch to see him transformed into Ryan Reynolds and how easily Damian accepts his completely new physique. The shedding seems to also have changed his moral values instantaneously (for the better – from Selfish to Self/less), but these are small points. It is more a shame that as the movie becomes more an action thriller as the story progresses, the concept of shedding itself isn’t explored more deeply – it actually gets more shallow and devalued when for instance it turns out at some point that Damian is being chased by Biogenics people who shed their body whenever they get injured in these chases.
Still it is not a bad movie at all, there is just a better story in there than what this movie turns out to be. Still an ok easy action flick, with solid cinematography, fun-to-watch performances by Ben Kingsley and Matthew Goode, and a Hollywood ending…