“Self/less” | Movie Review

Grade (C+)

An idea that could have resulted in a very appealing science-fiction thriller had the script not went the way of the generic approach far too often.


A New York real-estate tycoon discovers he is dying from cancer and turns to a company that can transport his consciousness into a healthy human body. With little options he agrees and soon begins to uncover clues that reveal nothing it what it seems with the organization, or the origins of his new body.

My Thoughts

Admittedly I was highly intrigued by this film when the trailer first came out. It gave me the impression it was going to be a tense sci-fi thriller and while there were some strong moments in this one, they did not all add up to a ‘great’ movie, but rather a slightly better than average one. For much of the first half I was fully involved and connected to the character of Damian played by Ben Kingsley.

For such little screen-time Kingsley was able to create a character you could vest your interest in quickly as he portrayed a man living his final days. His character had the world at his finger-tips, so facing eminent death, Kingsley created a character that embraced the ordeal with the same elegance he seemed to live by, and it was easily noticeable through the writing and his performance. Sure he did decide to take part in a radical procedure to implant his consciousness into another body but he had no idea if it would work and lived his life as if his time out. This was a really interesting approach to me and it pulled my attention after the first couple scenes.

After building a strong role in the story early on I will honestly say I was disappointed in how the character was written once the procedure was completed and a younger Damian was introduced. I was also mildly disappointed in the performance of Ryan Reynolds as well due to how his role was used in the film. His overall performance was decent and he clearly nailed some of the more emotional moments. He was also compelling in some of the scenes where his head was clouding with visions, they were excellently acted to make it look very realistic and you could feel the pain of the side-effects caused by the consciousness transfer.

The problem with Reynolds in this film was that he never really felt connectable to the character Kingsley created. In a way it hindered the flow for me as during the film there were many moments it simply felt like Ryan Reynolds on the run searching for answers, rather than a more rigid, intelligent man of power like that of Kingsley’s performance. The character for me just seemed to change too much when the whole point of the plot was for the consciousness to stay as is so the person can enjoy and extended life from the one they had already built.

I get how the writers tried to connect these moments and without revealing spoilers I felt the reasoning behind why the character was able to do what he managed to do as contradictory to the main plot of the film. Thus the film sold it self as a story about a man having his mind transferred to another body but really he was changed into a completely new character. The script glossed over too much detail and made the overall feel of the story rather cheesy as the main character goes from a man fitting for the life of luxury, to John Wick or something.

I’m probably nit-picking too much, however it could have also been more noticeable given the course of the script went from the possibility of a well-crafted science-fiction thriller to the path of unneeded action, leaving behind what could have been a much more suspenseful mystery. There were some warning signs this would be the result, as much of the medical procedure is blatantly glossed over and given little to no detail at all, leaving the viewer to just have to assume all works out neat and convenient.

While there were some things that pulled the potential of this movie down, it was still a moderately entertaining film. It does boast an interesting plot underneath the rather simple script and can still be enjoyed for what it is. The performances were pretty good all around. Although, assisted by some of the writing there were some moments of over-acting that were noticeable, but luckily not too extended. Matthew Goode was good at times but his character was way too recycled and lacked any real energy.

In the end this movie did keep my interest for the most part and I could say I enjoyed it. But as I sat through it I was wanting it to pull more thought from my mind, and it never did as the story-line took a solid idea and turned it into a brainless sci-fi actioneer. “Self/less” was a slightly above average, turn your brain off science-fiction adventure that will deliver some decent moments, but ultimately does not live up to its potential and results in the realm of quickly forgettable.

– Starring –

Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Matthew Goode, Natalie Martinez, Derek Luke, Victor Garber, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Michelle Dockery

– Directed By –

Tarsem Singh

Time: 117 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Sequences of violence, some sexuality and language)