I am a sucker for all things sci-fi. I would even go so far in saying that it's probably my favourite genre. Maybe. I don't like having a favourite genre, but sci-fi has to be up there. When it comes to Self/Less, I didn't really follow the marketing too closely. I didn't really stay up to date with it, missing the trailer all together until I found out it was being released in a month's time. So with all that put together, Self/Less was a sci-fi film that clearly wasn't raising a lot of hype, but it was one I was eager to see. So I did, obviously, and would I get punished for saying I actually enjoyed it?
The film follows the story of Damian (Ben Kingsley.... and Ryan Reynolds). He's a terminally ill old man who was recently given six months to live. Knowing that information, Damian investigates a company that performs "shedding," which is essentially transferring one's consciousness into a lab-produced body so that selected people are able to live out their full potential in life. Trusting them, Damian does it, waking up soon after in a different body. Things are going great. That is until he starts to see what the company are describing as hallucinations, although he believes they're something else. He believes they're memories.
The premise for Self/Less promises a damn good time at the movies. The execution gives us something else. This film isn't at all bad. It doesn't deserve all the negativity being thrown towards it. It's just not quite as exciting as it could've been. The film is set up so well, showing us the science behind this process, only to go on to slowly become more and more of a generic action movie with a serious lack of tension.
That being said, there's also a lot of fun to be had with this generic-ness. Sure, nothing after the first act really feels that original, but at least the filmmakers decided to rip off something entertaining, rather than some Transformers 4 type of dribble. The film keeps us engaged through the central characters, even providing a believable relationship between Damian and a seven year old girl named Anna (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen). In fact, it's their relationship that I actually bought into the most during the film.
Spilling with cringe worthy dialogue, this film is about as cheesy as they come. The story and performances aren't enough to make a film good. A good film is made when all of the components come together perfectly, and the experience is better than any words could describe. But since I'm a critic, I have to find some. There's a lot of things that are done right in this movie, and then there's a lot of other things, like the dialogue and the cinematography, that aren't. It's such a shame.
The biggest problem with Self/Less, however, is how ridiculously predicable it is. Seriously, this film couldn't have been more predictable. Every plot point, every character arc, every twist. All of it could be seen a mile away. There were moments where I doubted my predictions, I will give the film that, but these moments soon went away, and the predictability came back into play. This film could've been so much more, and I really wish they explored much more than they did. It's the first Purge movie all over again.
To sum up, Self/Less starts out really promising, despite a few bumps in the dialogue, but then proceeds to become a generic action movie. It's not boring, it's just not great. Let's hope Deadpool makes up for all of these mediocre Ryan Reynolds movies.