Monday, July 27, 2015

Self/less (2015)

Imagine a bit of a blend of The Sixth Day and The Island. That might not inspire confidence, and unfortunately this is a good example of an interesting idea and a cool setup, but then terribly executed.

Without going into it too much, the basic premise is that someone figured out how to transfer a mind into a new body, but it's only available to the ultra rich. Ben Kingsley plays a dying billionaire who takes advantage of this. He wakes up in Ryan Reynolds body and begins his 'new' life. Guess what? Things don't go as smoothly as advertised and then Reynolds runs around trying to figure out the truth behind it all.

At this point, Self/less abandons its premise and turns into a predictable action thriller. It's extremely disappointing in that the very sales pitch they give Kingsley's character is what would've someone like Einstein or Steve Jobs been able to do with another lifetime or two. However, the first thing they make Kingsley do is make is death public, so when he wakes up in Reynold's body, he has a completely different identity. It's not like he can continue his legacy, so what's the point of the sales pitch if you can't pick up exactly where you left off? He's allowed to set aside money, so it's not like he's broke, but as far as his business and relationships go, he's starting over from scratch. Imagine telling Steve Jobs he gets another lifetime, but he has to start another company or try to get a job at Apple and then have to work his way back up to the top. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If he had really planned ahead, he would have arranged to have his new identity named his successor, but Self/less doesn't do that.

After getting his new body, Self/less initially plays out more like an early retirement (that was even his new body's backstory). He doesn't try to start another business. Instead he plays basketball, bangs a bunch of chicks, and eats peanut butter (his previous body was allergic). I get taking advantage of your youth again, but this doesn't seem like someone truly taking advantage of this new life and maxing out your potential. Seems like you'd get bored pretty quickly.

Another huge disappointment was to learn this was directed by Tarsem Singh. If you aren't familiar with his work, his previous films have all had a very striking visual style. Even if you didn't care for the story, at least you'd get something out of the look of the film. There's none of that here in Self/less, which makes me wonder why he was even involved in the project. It's too straightforward for him.

Outside of Natalie Martinez, I didn't get anything out of any of the performances. It's not that anyone is bad, but she's the only person you connect with on any level.

It's not completely terrible, but not really worth recommending. You might catch this on cable one day and not think it was that bad, but that's about the highest praise I can give it.

1.5 (out of 5) Death Stars

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