The body-double thriller Self/Less plays with heartstrings and plays mind games with characters and audiences alike.
ARTH VADER (AV): Based on an original screenplay by Barcelona-born horror screen vets David “out of the dark” Pastor and Alex “Carriers” Pastor, Self/Less is a psychological thriller in the vain of The Andromeda strain, this film looks to spotlight immortality for the super rich. Billionaire Damian Hale has terminal cancer and turns to a radical medical procedure called "shedding," where his mind is transferred to a younger, healthier body. soon, he starts a new life in New Orleans an becomes engulfed in disturbing recurring images of the past life of his surrogate body.
THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Body snatching is not new to the sci-fi genre, but this film does it in a way that makes it interesting and uniquely entertaining. The fact that the “snatch” can only be permanent by meeting certain conditions, kept me wondering who was going to make it to the end.
CASTING, DIRECTING AND ACTING
AV: The cast is a quality ensemble of A-Listers and up-and-comers. Ryan “Deadpool” Reynolds plays the role of young Damian, Ben “Mandarin” Kingsly is the terminally ill real estate mogul, Damian with Natalie “Deathrace” Martinez and perennial bad guy we love that, Matthew “Ozymandias” Goode. The competent direction of Tarsem “Immortals” Singh delivered a visually tense aura to the movie and lends itself soundly to the dramatic thriller genre. The acting was kind of expected to me, but that by no means the film showed poorly. There were other things that helped that along. How say you old friend?
TP: The cast was very good and it was a stroke of genius to hook the audience first with Ben Kingsley as his performance was stellar for the short time he graced the silver screen Vader. I’ve always liked Ryan Reynolds although he is better in some films than others depending on the material. In this film he was pretty good and it helped that he was supposed to be channeling Kingsley because his performance kept bringing me back to that. The beautiful Natalie Martinez was very good as was Matthew Goode (whom I have not seen since “Watchmen” despite his doing lots of work since then).
AV: It is my grounded belief that visual effects are an integrated part of the sci-fi movie making process. What distinguishes one take on visual effects over another is part budget, part story and part director’s vision. In self/Less, there is an effort to make the flashback experience different, especially since it is a deep-seeded memories are less true flashbacks and more memory fragments. This film presented those moments expertly. Anything new here? No, however, in context, not in anyway disappointing.
TP: This film did not call for too much special effects leaving it to spend a lot of time developing the characters and delivering a great story. The effects that were in the film helped bring it along and complimented the story. It’s hard to mess up a few fight scenes, car chases and explosions.…and making the mind swap aspect very simplistic, this film was a sci-fi thriller that was very light on “sci" and heavy of the “fi.”
TAKING A DEEPER LOOK
AV: Above/Average. This film offers little new narrative to speak of but that didn’t make it a bad movie. Its not terribly inventive, not overall clever and bores and challenges your suspension of disbelief so often you wonder why you are still along for the ride. In truth, Self/Less has its moments–a good number of them, actually–but fails to deliver a knockout blow, or enough “WOW” moments that send me over the top and riding off into the sunset. Kingsley is terrific and its hard not to love Reynolds in nearly anything, but in truth, for me, Self/Less is just sort of there. Parts are near stellar and Matthew Goode is flawless and mostly liked the film. A worthy rental and certainly worth another viewing wouldn’t you say Ponty?
TP: Well Vader, if you blinked, this film got passed you as a science-fiction thriller that told a very well thought out story with lots of drama. The idea of immortality is not new, but this take on it was very unique. I enjoyed the fact that this was a story-driven film that told a multiple stories at the same time. The fact that the basis for the film started out as a search to live forever, but ended up as a story about love makes this one of the most engaging films I have seen this summer. It is also one of the few films where the trailer does it absolutely no justice at all and those that decided to pass on it because of the trailer have been wronged by shoddy marketing.
AV: There are many reasons to further explore this genre of movie-making and story-telling. There are few reasons to follow up on this film, though. The mind is a fertile landscape to craft a sci-fi master piece (Please allow Chris Nolan’s Inception as exhibit ‘A’, Minority Report as exhibit “B”). Psychological thrillers are no stranger to the sci-fi genre, but I truly feel this story has been told and I don’t need any more. What were your thoughts, Pontificator?
TP: Well Vader, I don’t think a sequel is likely as the movie wrapped up nice and neat and stands independently as a great story about two fathers that love their daughters.
ARTH VADER rates Self/Less: An intelligently positioned, near-future, cautionary tale set to some unique and original locations in New Orleans, Self/Less is a mind transfer thriller that exceeded my expectations but didn’t fully realize it's own potential. With lots of thought-provoking thrills, the intelligent, action/thriller thoughtfully transfers six (6) Busted Blocks from one host to the next.
THE PONTIFICATOR rates Self/less: With a great performance by Kingsley and good follow-ups by the rest of the cast, this film told a great story full of drama and laced with plenty of action and thrills to appeal to a broad audience. An excellent example of using a little sci-fi to tell a great story, this film shed eight (8) busted blocks to live forever on the silver screen.
Self/Less: 7:0 / 10 Busted Blocks