Action-thriller ‘Self/Less’ brings fresh ideas, but suffers from stale delivery

Thursday 09th, July 2015 / 12:07
By Reid Duncan Carmichael

VANCOUVER — Early on in Self/Less, a question is put forward to wealthy industrialist Damian (Ben Kingsley): Despite a legacy built from the ground up as a genius businessman, and the knowledge that he will be remembered forever for his accomplishments, does Damian feel immortal? Dying slowly and painfully of cancer, Damian decides that he does not and agrees to an experimental procedure known as shedding, wherein he is promised to have his consciousness transferred to a new and improved body (Ryan Reynolds) by a mysterious doctor (Matthew Goode).

The procedure works, Damian gets his new body, and everything is perfect until it becomes apparent that the body wasn’t grown in a lab as originally advertised. Damian assumes a role of morality and vows to take apart the clandestine organization that has been using donated bodies so he can protect a family he endangered in his quest for answers, killing countless nameless and faceless grunts in the process.

While the premise is original and interesting, the film itself suffers from a common issue in action-oriented stories of its kind: If this guy is so good and likeable and moral, why is he killing all of these people to prove it? Never mind the fact that Old Damian never had any combat experience but is now somehow adept at martial arts, a crack shot with a pistol, and a pretty savvy getaway driver to boot (points that are explained away with reflexes inherited by his new body).

All that being said, the action sequences are to die for. The film’s fast paced with shootouts, car chases and fight scenes galore. A flamethrower is used prominently and boy howdy is it ever cool.

Should you watch it? Well it’s not a sequel or a remake. It’s pretty fresh despite having a stale crust. Although the protagonist isn’t particularly likable, the supporting characters (Madeline and her daughter) are the ones you end up cheering for anyway. The action scenes are really well done and the film is altogether an enjoyable ride. Maybe wait for it to hit Netflix though.

Self/Less hits wide release July 10.

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