Going In and Coming Out: Self/Less


By: Anthony King


There are a lot of films out there that help us escape our lives and live out a fantasy.  For men in particular, some want to be an international spy who always gets the lady, an astronaut exploring the galaxy, a mobster in a fancy suit tossing out the kiss of death left and right… or some of us just want to be able to discard our gross bodies and be Ryan Reynolds.

The story of a wealthy man going to extremes to cheat death or to gain immortality isn’t an unfamiliar premise.  But, if you toss in some sci-fi elements and make it an action thriller under the direction of Tarsem Singh, then I’m definitely interested.  Mr. Singh’s work has been somewhat spotty, but he definitely has a great visual talent.  I really enjoyed The Fall and I loved Immortals.  I know I’ll get some hate for that, but I’m a sucker for those types of movies and thought it was visually unique and entertaining.

I personally believe Ryan Reynolds can do no wrong.  Sure, he’s been in some bad movies, but I never think those films are bad because of his performance.  The man is charming and delightful whether he’s falling in love with Sandra Bullock or going toe to toe with Denzel Washington.  So, put him in a sci-fi/action/thriller with a great supporting cast including Ben Kingsley, Matthew Goode and throw in a director with a lot of potential and we may just have a great film.

Suspected Rating: 7/10



If I didn’t know who directed this and you gave me a thousand guesses, I would of never said Tarsem Singh.  Whether you enjoy his films or not, the man has a talent for interesting visuals and that was completely lost here which was probably the biggest disappointment.

I’m not a big fan of writing bad reviews. Sure, its fun to come up with clever negative remarks, but its more fun to find some enjoyment out of a film.  Even bad movies can have one or two good scenes that make it worthwhile.  Self/Less didn’t have anything really “bad” about it.  It was just boring, unoriginal, and hard to connect with.  I wasn’t sitting there waiting for it to end though.  I held out hope until the last scene.

The story follows Ben Kingsley as an obscenely wealthy man who’s dying;  so he finds this company who is willing to transfer his mind into a new body.  It turns out the selected body isn’t as new as he initially thought, so he goes on a mission to hunt down the original owner of the body and unravel the sinister company behind it.

My main problem was the connection between Ben Kingsley and Ryan Reynolds.  They are supposed to be the same person, but I honestly didn’t feel that at all.  In fact, I thought Lindsay Lohan did a better job at being Jamie-Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday (remember how fun that was?).  The only time I felt Ryan Reynolds was an old guy inside was when he made a quip about not seeing young boobies in 50 years.

I don’t think they spent enough time building up Ben Kingsley as a character.  They never really explained why he wanted to live other than the fact he could afford it.  The only thing that was shown to us was a broken relationship with his daughter.  The fat cat could be able to make up for the loss of quality time if he was given a chance to repair this relationship. But as per the film’s concept, one of the major rules to a new body is you are not allowed to contact anyone you ever knew.  So, we’re led to believe he just wanted a new body to live free and party.

Like I said, there is nothing overtly bad about Self/Less.  If you’re in the mood for an action film, then I don’t think I can recommend it because even those scenes are few and far between.  The only sci-fi aspect of it is the ability to transfer minds into new bodies – it barely earns that title.  I fear this movie will be forgotten quickly which is a shame to think what could have been.  I think a tale of a man being able to discard his dying body and living again could be interesting, but with Self/Less’ paint-by-numbers style of direction and dull story, we are left unsatisfied.

Final Rating: 5/10


Read more of Anthony King’s ‘Going In and Coming Out’ reviews at ‘Reel Mess’


Readers Comments (1)

  1. John Frankenheimer did this story better 49 years ago with SECONDS. I watched SECONDS ten years ago and it still haunts me.

    Trailer –
    Full Movie –

    Sounds like Self/Less is sloppy SECONDS 🙂


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