'Self/Less' a thought/less body-switch thriller

  • Edward (Ryan Reynolds) goes Def-Con 4 on a secret corporation while protecting a single mother (Natalie Martinez) and her daughter (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) in the body-switch thriller "Self/less."

    Edward (Ryan Reynolds) goes Def-Con 4 on a secret corporation while protecting a single mother (Natalie Martinez) and her daughter (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) in the body-switch thriller "Self/less."

 
 
Posted7/9/2015 5:45 AM

Nothing quite works the way it should in Tarsem Singh's body-switch thriller "Self/Less."

Not the screenplay. Not the direction. Not Ryan Reynolds' interpretation of Ben Kingsley's ruthless, 68-year-old New York real estate magnate, Damian Hale.

 

Especially not the actual body-switch process.

The premise sounds promising for an entry in the spotty body-switch genre. (Many critics have compared "Self/Less" to John Frankenheimer's 1966 "Seconds" in which a wealthy, older bank executive buys a new body that belongs to Rock Hudson.)

Dying of cancer, Hale shells out a whopping $250 million to Matthew Goode's serpent-like CEO of the Phoenix Biogenic Corporation in exchange for a younger, stronger body that has been genetically grown in a laboratory. Or so he has been told.

Once the process, called "shedding," is completed, Hale wakes up in Reynold's younger, muscular body. (That should have been the first clue something is wrong ... how exactly do lab-grown bodies work out to achieve chiseled biceps?)

"Immortality comes with a few side-effects," the CEO drolly whispers.

Among them are blinding headaches and flashbacks to a life that Hale has never lived. (Clue No. 2 that something is wrong.) No problem. A consistent dose of magic pills keeps the flashbacks at bay.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Once he gets his strength up, Hale, now taking the identity of a guy named Edward, spends 15 seconds on the Internet and finds the exact water tower he sees in his flashbacks.

He travels to where the tower stands, next to a rural homestead where he's shocked (and he's the only one) to discover photos of his new self with a widowed mom (Natalie Martinez) and her lovable daughter (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen),

He also finds Phoenix agent Anton (Derek Luke) hot on his trail, with orders to kill if necessary.

Of course, it's necessary.

Good thing that the body Ed now occupies used to be a Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan. And his body still retains its muscle memory for killing people.

What begins as an intriguing, potentially thought-provoking science-fiction drama, a 21st century version of Michael Crichton's "Coma," quickly devolves into an uninspired shoot 'em up action picture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

What does it mean to have a new lease on life when you're required to totally deny the one you had before?

How would the 1 percent actually react to the knowledge they bought out someone else's life?

These and other worthy questions go up in gun smoke as Singh throws together a saggy, shaggy tale of survival that bears little of the flamboyant visuals of his earlier works "The Fall" and "The Cell."

Beside, how seriously can you take any thriller where the bad guys put prisoners in an office with a working flamethrower in the corner?

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.