A dying real eastate mogul transfers his consciousness into a healthy young body, but soon finds that neither the procedure nor the company that performed it are quite what they seem.
Release Date: 07-10-2015 | MPAA Rating: PG-13 | Runtime: 1 hr 57 mins | Directed by: Tarsem Singh | Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode, Ben Kingsley
Self/Less is a body swap science fiction movie from the director of The Cell and one of Ryan Reynolds’ lesser known films.
If there’s one thing they did right it’s the beginning. We get five minutes of character development that doubles as the inciting incident, and then bam, we’re in the story, visually shown what’s about to happen with barely any telling that isn’t necessary. And honestly it’s a premise that sells really well today in a way I don’t think they were planning for when they wrote it. An ultrawealthy New York real estate man gets preyed upon in the most existentially terrifying way possible by some shadowy company? Really sounds like it could be a modern day Robin Hood story.
How exactly they bring us into the main story requires a little bit of suspension of disbelief, but not too much, especially if you’re in a conspiracy theorist kind of mood. It made me raise an eyebrow but I didn’t feel like it was totally unbelievable. Honestly the method of staging the mind transfer is easier to believe that a company seeking to “preserve the world’s greatest minds” would seek out a glorified landlord as a client.
Turns out it wasn’t a Robin Hood story though. The metaphor is a little on the nose and I don’t agree with what it’s really saying, but it’s kind of nice to imagine there might be some good in people. The premise was solid and I wish they had taken it further.
Ryan Reynolds is okay in this, but I feel like he was just given a not-so-great script to work with. He does fine with the material but the material is obviously not the greatest. Everyone else is also fine. There are no standout performances but nobody makes a fool of thesmelves either. Ben Knigsley in particular really sold the cantankerous old rich guy vibe. There’s not much to say about the performances beyond that.
For a sci-fi movie there’s not a lot of sci-fi in the production. Beyond the mind transfer scene everything feels like present day. There are a one or two moderately sized setpiece moments but for the most part the movie feels very small and budgeted. It’s the little things that you don’t really notice until you start to look for them, the things that act as good measures of production value. No big crowds, no special effects to speak of, no big action sequences. Movies can be really good without those things but in this genre the lack of them does stand out. Overall the look of the film was just average, which is fine, but given the way everything else is average too, it’s a little unfortunate.
And if I wanted to nitpick I would say it’s a little on the nose to name the company that gives people new bodies “Phoenix.” It doesn’t play an important role in the story but a little more creativity could’ve gone into that name.
Like I said, it’s an average movie. I don’t hate that I watched it but it’s not in my list of must-see Ryan Reynolds movies. I wish there had been more scifi in it or a little more budget for the action parts. Watch it or don’t. I’m pretty lukewarm on it.
Cory is an author and a writer for video games. He likes to yell at bad horror movies and write reviews about good ones. He is also attending film school at the University of Texas to hopefully make good movies one day. He is also clearly bad at picking just one hobby when there are so many fun things to do. Ask him about his cat if you’re having a bad day, or if you like cat pictures.
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