“SELF/LESS” is billed as psychological science fiction thriller with Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley as “Damian” as an extremely wealthy man dying from cancer who finds out about a radical underground medical procedure called “shedding” that can transfer his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man in Ryan Reynolds the younger version of Damian. As with anyone given back a younger self, Younger Damien then proceeds to take full advantage of that situation but with all the knowledge of his older self, to mix it up New Orleans party style. As long as he takes his ‘special’ pills that is.
But as you figure out within the first 15 minutes of the film, all is not as it seems as Reynolds “Younger Damian” starts experiencing flashes of a woman “Madeline” (Natalie Martinez) and a child “Anna” (Jayne-Lynn Kinchen), which leads to him going on an action-fueled rampage to figure out the mystery of who they are and what they lead to – aka the body’s origin – and the underground organization lead by a “Professor Albright” (Matthew Goode) that will kill anyone who tries to find out its secrets.
This film’s only surprise for me was that I thought I was going into a sci-fi type film (the premise seemed quite interesting from the trailers) – was actually a sluggish, very predictable, ‘point/less’ (pun intended) action film. And while I might question why we are led to believe that Ben Kingsley is one of the main attractions of the film, as he’s only there for a very short period in the first act, I will say I did absolutely love the use of Louisiana flare and colour that they squeeze in at every possible moment from jazz bands to Mardi Gras and yes, even chicory coffee!
Beyond that we are left with Michelle Dockery “Claire” (trying her hardest to give a good American accent) as older Damian’s daughter with whom he feels that if given another chance by doing this shedding experiment, he can repair his relationship with her. Add in a supporting cast of older Damien’s best friend “Martin” (Victor Garber) & his wife “Judy” (Melora Hardin) with a few secrets of their own that the younger version will discover and a interchangeable henchmen “Anton 1” (Derek Luke) and “Anton 2” (Brendan McCarthy) and you’ve wrapped up your film in a handshake.
While I was told there has been comparisons with a 1966 John Frankenheimer film called “Seconds” which I’ve not seen, I can only say that SELF/LESS might have tried hard to be this but took a sharp left turn in the wrong direction as it’s more interested in sending Damian on the run with an upset wife and child in tow as he tries to keep them in the dark over what’s really happening..and you can imagine how realistic that all is. (clue: it’s not)
Essentially the story is your basic standard fugitive plotline with any inter-personal connections aspect of it being severely underwritten.
Screening: Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 at The Grove-Pacific Theatres courtesy of Focus Features & LAFTV
NATIONWIDE RELEASE: Friday, July 10th, 2015