You know when you watch a trailer and you sigh because not only does the trailer practically gives away the entire movie, you also wish that the supporting actor played the lead role. Well, Self/less is such a movie and the actor I wish had played the lead is Matthew Goode. More on that later.
A couple of people pointed out to me on Twitter that the premise of this movie is practically identical to the John Frankenheimer-directed Seconds. I haven’t seen it once I checked it on IMDb, it’s indeed the same story! I don’t know if the screenwriting brothers David and Alex Pastor acknowledged that, but I have a feeling the 1966 film is far more compelling than this one.
So the gist of the story is that Damian (Ben Kingsley), a wealthy magnate who’s dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. He’s just ‘an empty vessel,’ Doctor Albright (Goode) assured Damian as he gave him a tour around his highly-secret lab. The reason why Damian would want to go through such an extreme procedure isn’t explored well here but then again if you’re expecting a deep and thought-provoking film, well you won’t find it here.
The machine for such a radical procedure looks nothing more than modified medical CT scanners. It’s rather preposterous premise but it’s a fantasy sci-fi so you’re just expected to just suspend your disbelief and go along with it. It reminds me a bit of the procedure of John Woo’s Face/Off, alas the movie itself isn’t half as entertaining. When Damian wakes up, poof there goes Sir Kingsley from the movie, never to be seen again. In his place we’ve got the tall and buff Ryan Reynolds. It’s interesting that though the older Damian is British, his new self now speaks with an American accent. Now, you’d think that language is stored in the brain/consciousness, so wouldn’t you think that’d be transferred to his new body??
In any case, no time to be concerned with that because the movie moves along at breakneck pace to get to the part where Damian 2.0 is enjoying life to the fullest. Placed in this huge house in New Orleans set up by the secret organization, Damian fills his new days partying and shagging every hot girl he fancies, powered by the red pills that block the hallucinations that plague him. These scenes are set in a series of montages set to some fast-paced music that are neither entertaining nor particularly memorable.
Of course Damian can’t live the good live forever, and a procedure this radical surely has extreme consequences. Damian soon finds out just how bad things get and *immortality* comes with a high cost… for him and the new body he now occupies. The more he discovers about the truth, the more he’s ravaged by guilt and our hero goes on a quest to set things right, as it were. There’s really no suspense as you can pretty much guess what’s going to happen next. When Damian missed just one dose of that red pill, the hallucination became so vivid he simply couldn’t just dismiss it. By the time he ends up in St. Louis, the movie quickly descends into an action thriller.
I kept waiting for some really fascinating stuff happening but that moment never came. Now, I said that I had wanted Matthew Goode in Reynolds’ role and I bet he could easily pull it off. But come to think of it, I can’t imagine the opposite. I just don’t see Reynolds possessing the elegant countenance nor the sheer intellect of Goode’s character. But what Reynolds is capable of is kicking ass, I mean he’s played several superheroes in his career after all. The filmmaker constantly zooms in on his massive biceps and athletic physique, as if we need to be more sold on that front. Yet what I’d like to see in this protagonist [well any protagonist for that matter] is charisma and wits, none of which is on display here. Therein lies the main issue I have with this movie.
Now, the script is hardly original nor imaginative, but the movie could still be more watchable if we have a charismatic lead. Alas, on top of having to witness two talented British actors being completely wasted, I was stuck watching an insipid *hero* for two hours. I’d also mention Natalie Martinez and Victor Garber but they’re not really given much to do here, either. To add insult to injury, this movie is devoid of style director that usually comes from director Tarsem Singh. I LOVE The Fall, which had style AND heart, and even the rather vapid Immortals has the self-described ‘Caravaggio meets Fight Club’ style to make up for it. But this movie is just bland in substance AND style.
I’d say unless you’re a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds, I’d say skip this one. Instead of focusing on the cerebral aspect of the concept, Self/less is nothing more than just a standard shoot-em-up – predictable, laden with clichés and anchored by a totally dull lead. I read a review somewhere that said the slash in the film’s title is perhaps the most inventive part of the movie and that about sums it up.
34 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Self/less (2015)”
Matthew Goode in the lead is far more interesting. He’s got the charisma, the chops, and is far better-looking than Reynolds. I’m not entirely surprised that the film didn’t work but I’m just disappointed that the film is a rip-off of an even better film. Plus, I think Ryan Reynolds is essentially poison these days. Maybe Scar-Jo 3:16 put a curse on him. If she did, then good.
Goode is criminally underused in Hollywood, I just don’t get it. But then again I can’t imagine Reynolds in his role as I won’t ever buy him as a scientist!! Ahah, well Scar-Jo clearly has a good taste in men that she dumped him!
No, they should not cast Ryan Reynolds at all.. What a waste of two good actors, Goode and sir Kingsley. If they want good looking guy, cast actor who can act. Reynolds is not convincing enough as an actor.
Hi Von! No they shouldn’t, he’s just so boring and bland. He’s good in action stuff I suppose, but this movie could’ve been more intriguing if they focused on the intellectual aspect.
Reynolds will be good if he doesn’t talk, just jump the bridge, with big explosion, and give him a page of script with limited dialog. 😎 Like they did with Keanu on the Matrix. I was thinking if they focused on the intellectual aspect, they should’ve cast someone like Colin Firth or Hugh Laurie as the doctor, and have Goode play the main character. Now that will be entertaining.
Yep, or cover him in a mask for the entire movie which is what he’ll be doing in Deadpool movie. It’d be cool to see Matthew in Reynolds’ role and Firth as the intellectual doctor. Now that’s a movie worth seeing!!
Go watch Seconds! It’s great.
I really should! For sure Rock Hudson is far more watchable than Reynolds any day!
Why does Hollywood even hire an actor who’s recent “credits” include R,i.P.D , Safe House and Green Lantern? That’s a batting average that’s neither worthwhile of “bankable”.
And excellent catch on John Frankenheimer’s Seconds , Dave! I caught the similarities early on within the trailer.
Yep, neither worthwhile, bankable nor watchable at all. I mentioned ‘Seconds’ in my review too Kevin, though I haven’t seen it yet. I should check that out, I have no doubt it’s a much better film.
Nice review, Ruth. Another film I will choose to pass. I do love Kingsley, but he’s not done much lately that maximizes his talent. I don’t care for Reynolds. I also hate it when the accents get jumbled up. Good call his new self should have a British accent….
Yeah, just skip this Cindy. The movie failed just on the most basic *science* part of it, but then again it seemed to only care about the shoot-em-up parts instead of exploring the psychology of the immortality procedure.
I don’t know why Hollywood is trying to make Ryan Reynolds into an action/leading man, like Jack mentioned above, he’s already starred in so many flops yet he’s still getting cast as a lead. I would rather see Goode as a lead in films than Reynolds any day. Also, I’m not a fan of Tarsem Singh, he’s just style with no substance kind of director.
You should see SECONDS, it’s a great underrated thriller from that era and when I saw the trailer for this film, I immediately thought of Frankenheimer’s classic. This is a good example of some writers in Hollywood who decided to ripped off older films and yet never acknowledge the films they’re ripping off. That makes me angry. You can rip off other films but at least say you’re making homage to them or something, look at Tarantino’s films, he pretty much ripped many films that he loved and he always acknowledge them.
Okay rants over. So basically I would never see this film.
Rant away Ted, you have good reason for it. It’s infuriating and so unethical to just rip off an older film’s premise like they did here. I’m surprised there’s not much hoopla about it, as most people mentioned about Seconds to me on Twitter. Yeah, it’s one thing to rip off and another to give homage to something. Yeah, just skip this one, esp if you can’t stand Reynolds.
Shame, this looks ok on paper! Nicely done Ruth 🙂
Only on paper Mark. But then again, the casting of Reynolds should give it away that it’s crappola.
Sounds mediocre at best, I won’t be rushing to see this one!
Hi Laura, yep exactly. It’s wise that you stay away from this one.
I like Goode a lot in The Good Wife. He’s come a long way since the dreadful Leap Year. Amy Adams has too, come to think of it.
Hi Alex! I might check out some of the episodes w/ Matthew in The Good Wife. Ahah well, he’s really the best thing in Leap Year, otherwise it’d be utterly unwatchable.
It’s a great drama. Think you’d like it.
This sounds like its a poor version of Seconds . I’d highly recommend that movie if you enjoyed the premise of this film, as it had a lot of promise. Predestination is another that is similar to this but does it sooooooo much better! I’d love to hear what you think of either of those 🙂
Hi Jordan! Yeah it definitely borrowed the main concept from that film, but the filmmakers didn’t seem to acknowledge it. Oh Predestination is an excellent sci-fi, but the premise is quite different I think. I still haven’t seen Seconds yet but I might check that out.
Yeah Predestination is a bit different, but Seconds is quite similar. Its a corker of a movie, i highly recommend it! 🙂
Sounds like something I am definitely NOT going to see.
Yeah, don’t waste your time on this unless you’re a huge fan of Reynolds. Can’t imagine that you are though.
Bummer. This definitely had potential and it looks like it didn’t live up to it.
I think the casting of Ryan Reynolds is my biggest issue, he’s just a lame actor. Wish Matthew Goode got as many roles as he does, I mean seriously he’s a better actor AND far better looking too!
While I agree he’s a better actor, I do have to give Ryan some credit. He was fantastic in Buried.
I give him props for trying, but generally he’s just so bland. I guess I always prefer the underrated ones [esp Euro actors], as they just have more edge.
Ha, I don’t think Matthew Goode could even make me see this. Think I’ll skip it. 😉
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