Simon Morris reviews American science fiction thriller Self/less.
Sir Ben Kingsley only shows up at the start of Self/less, playing a dying billionaire. Fortunately, help is at hand – a shady organization that offers the chance for infinitely extended life. All he has to do is swap bodies – and sinister Matthew Goode just happens to have grown one in the laboratory. He comes out brand new – or rather, as Ryan Reynolds, an actor already familiar with body-swapping after the comedy The Change-Up. Trouble ensues.
As always in this sort of Twilight Zone sci-fi thriller, we wait with bated breath for the “Oh come on!” moment. To the credit of Self/less it takes over half an hour arriving, mostly thanks to the sterling spade-work Ben Kingsley had put in at the start of the movie, developing his character.
The problem is paying off a not unpromising idea. But it soon becomes clear the writers and director have no more idea how to do it than the rest of us. So they mark time with a few car-chases, body-swaps and general fluffing about, hoping that we’ll accept a mega-happy ending in place of any sort of logic.
The question is: who do we want to see at the end of this film - shallow movie-star Ryan Reynolds, or the character Ben Kingsley effortlessly built up in about ten minutes of screen time? Director Tarsem Singh picked the obvious answer, but as Sherlock Holmes could have told him, that’s generally the wrong one.