Friday, July 10

Self/less Review

Dir: Tarsem Singh
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Natalie Martinez, Michelle Dockery, Derek Luke, and Matthew Goode
117 Minutes
Focus Features

Immortality. If you could live forever, would you? Imagine what the world would look like if some of the greatest minds would have had more time to carry out their work, more time to discover the possibilities they had envisioned. Scientists across the globe are trying to turn this science fiction into science future. Research into the complexities of the human brain yields many unanswered questions, and that's not including the greater topic of immortality; still even the smallest steps in research gain ground. Think about what science has brought the world in the last twenty years. “Self/less”, directed by Tarsem Singh, attempts to weigh in on this topic of immortality and the result is an initially thought-provoking science film that falters with a conventional approach that doesnt accommodate the creativeness of the topic.

Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) is an aged, ruthless New York real estate mogul. We are introduced to him ailing from a disease that will ultimately take his life. Damian has a strained relationship with his daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery), who on first meeting Damian offends by belittling her charitable occupation. Damian unexpectedly meets a British scientist named Albright (Matthew Goode) who deals in the science of immortality through cognitive transferring software. Damian, knowing his life will soon be over, pays for the procedure. Upon his faked death Damians memories and thoughts will be transferred to a younger body (Ryan Reynolds).

Science fiction authors, think Robert A. Heinlein or Phillip K. Dick, have dealt with this topic before. Even this year the film “Transcendence” proposed the transferring of human thought and memory into a computer system. This idea is far from original, though it remains ripe material because of the continued advances in technology. Preposterous as it may feel at times in "Self/less", because the film doesn't completely sell the science, it still proposes many intriguing questions. Director Tarsem Singh builds a good introduction, displaying Damian Hale as a man plagued by both the deficits and benefits of time. What will he do with his renewed life? This would have been the interesting question to pursue. Unfortunately just as elements begin to gain ground and move towards fascinating places the narrative turns into an action-thriller filled with all the usually, predictable conventions. 

Ryan Reynolds plays Damian Hale for the bulk of the film with Ben Kingsley making a quick appearance in the beginning before transferring, or “shedding” as the film describes it, into a younger body. Reynolds has a charming appeal as Damian, an interesting and somewhat abrupt change from the grumpy persona of Damian that Kingsley displays in the beginning. The character unfortunately never feels completely fleshed out, instead it is pieced together with emotions and reactions that assist the tumbling directions of the narrative.

“Self/less” has initial promise because it takes the theories and implications seriously; regardless of how far reaching it may feel at times. Unfortunately this tone is abandoned in favor of unnecessary twists and actions scenes. Immortality may not be the stuff of science fiction for future generations, which makes it interesting to ask if you would want to live forever? Or, would the world be better off?  “Self/less” would have been better suited taking these kinds of questions more seriously.

Montes Rating

3.00 out of 5.00

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