I wouldn’t mind being reincarnated as Ryan Reynolds. So this focuses on a science-fiction concept known as shedding. What this entails is that if you’re rich and successful enough, you can do this procedure that puts your soul into another body once you’ve become too decrepit to carry on in your current vessel. When a business tycoon (Ben Kingsley) decides to take the leap and assume the body of a younger man (Reynolds), he believes all of his problems to be solved… or is everything truly as perfect as it seems? I’ve always like Ryan Reynolds, and I’ve wanted nothing but good things for the man. That said, he can’t buy a hit at the box office to save his life. Do you know what the highest grossing Ryan Reynolds movie is? It’s The Croods, an animated movie where he doesn’t even get to show his face. With Self/less, he has made a decent movie, but one that was unable to connect with audiences, based on box office performance.
When this started, I thought this may be in the same vein as Ex Machina, doing more with less in a science fiction story. As this went on, I realized that this is much closer to Air in that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with it, but it is not as smart as it would like to be, nor does it have that smart social commentary that Ex Machina features so prominently. That said, while it does have its shortcomings, this isn’t bad, especially if you’re a sci-fi junkie. It has enough twists and turns to keep you wondering where it is going, and this is very surprisingly directed by Tarsem, a fact that I was completely unaware of until his name rolled with the end credits. He’s a very visual director, and it’s odd, because there is nothing visually outstanding about this that really catches your attention.
This is another one of these movies that was written to take place in New Orleans for the filming tax breaks, but that never really bothered me. It’s a good set-up with an emotional core, but what really is the breaking point between this being good or merely passable is if you can by Ryan Reynolds playing Ben Kingsley. The answer to that question is no, not really, and after a few minutes, you’re just watching Ryan Reynolds doing his usual thing. I do like the core concept of shedding, and while there are certainly worthwhile elements to this, this ultimately comes across as having bigger ideas than what they knew what to do with.
Self/less (2015) ***
– Critic for Hire