Thursday, July 16, 2015

Movie Review #281: "Self/less" (2015)

Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Tarsem Singh
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes
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Damian (Ben Kingsley) is a wealthy real estate mogul who is dying of cancer. In order to extend his life, he plans to undergo a procedure that will transfer his mind into a younger body (Ryan Reynolds). He is told the bodies are grown in a lab, but he soon finds out that his young body has its own memories from its life, as well as those of a wife and a daughter. He also quickly finds out that the company which performs the procedure will do anything to keep their secrets quiet. 

"Self/less" is so close to being a good movie. It's right there within arm's reach, and with a few tweaks, it had the potential to be fabulous, but unfortunately, it just falls short of even so much as goodness. There are some elements of this film that are quite entertaining, and since most critic's have sticks up their asses, they won't be able to see the little bit of good over the overwhelming amount of "meh." There are a few really intense action scenes with some interesting violence for a movie rated PG-13. Ryan Reynolds does manage to offer up a couple chuckles with his tried and true snarky, sarcastic attitude, though his overall performance leaves a lot to be desired. We find ourselves over Ryan Reynolds as an actor for the most part and think he should stick to comedies and voice-over work, but who knows, maybe one of these days, he will surprise us. As expected, Ben Kingsley is barely in the movie because his character is dying, but we wish we could have had a little more time with him pre-body shedding since we have almost always loved him in everything else he has done. There are other relationship aspects throughout its run time that are contrived, cliche, and not at all likely to happen. These instances are also not in any way aided by the poor acting and chemistry of Reynolds and his body's former owner's wife Madeline, played by Natalie Martinez, who yells and screams and cries an awful lot to the point of grating on your nerves. Matthew Goode does provide for a menacing "baddie" here, but again, he barely has any screen time as this is almost exclusively the Ryan Reynolds show.

The premise of "Self/less" is pretty cool and quite intriguing, a hybrid of many other sci-fi thrillers that have come before it mashed into one puzzling tale. However, this potentially fascinating premise is largely overshadowed by the inconsistencies in its plot and the ramblings of the director's, well, direction. There are some missteps in its execution, and with a couple of eliminated scenes early on in Damian's body shedding process, it could have made the ride during the rest of the movie a lot smoother and, though not completely eliminated, much less problematic. With these eliminations, the continuity problems would have been much improved and more engaging to the audience, plus, shorter. Beyond this, the pacing is also an issue here. It feels like it just drags on and on, and though almost 2 hours anyways, Singh's sometimes aimless direction makes the movie feel longer than it really is. Underneath all of this badness and disappointment is a good, strong story that, in the hands of more capable actors and directors, could have been something to rise above this mediocrity. The final products of "Self/less" feels very generic, like something we have seen before, but it's nowhere near as bad as critics are saying it is, especially compared to shit-show "The Gallows," which was released the same day. Overall, there are some good elements, some bad, see this one if you want to do so, but you'll be safe if you wait for it to come out on DVD.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 21%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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