Poor Ryan Reynolds. He’s a nice guy, but nearly every movie he chooses to be in turns out to be a tremendous critical flop (Green Lantern, Woman in Gold, Safe House, R.I.P.D., Blade: Trinity, etc.). However, when I heard his next film was going to be directed by the same guy who made Immortals (a very underrated action/mythology film), I was pretty amped-up. Self/Less is directed by Tarsem Singh and written by David and Alex Pastor. Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Goode (aka Hugh from The Imitation Game), and Ben Kingsley. Premise-An old tycoon dying of cancer, chooses to undergo a radical scientific procedure that will transfer his consciousness to a healthy, younger body. However, the body he is now in does not belong to him.
I guess I should talk about the acting first. Surprisingly Reynolds gives possibly his best performance ever. I think the main reason for that is the direction. In Green Lantern, he had a stupid expression on for most of the film, and the rest of the time he barely showed any emotion. In Self/Less he does act like he cares about the character he’s portraying. Ben Kingsley is in this movie but I don’t think he is into this movie, if you get what I’m saying. Considering he is only in the movie for the first 12 minutes, he could have given a half-hearted performance, and sadly he did. Luckily Matthew Goode is outstanding in this film! He has an undeniable charm and is easily the best actor in the movie. The second best thing would be the climax. This movie is one-third action, and that is easily the genre this movie is best at. The climax proves that. The last notable highlight would be the direction. I don’t think Tarsem gets enough praise for his use of the camera. This is not surprising, because every one of his movies has stellar cinematography.
With all the praise I seem to be giving this movie, you’d think I’d give it an A. Even though I’d love to do that, there is one critical slip-up: the story. I said it before and I’ll say it again, “The story is the most important aspect of your movie. PERIOD.” If you want to know more read my Terminator Genisys review. But back to Self/Less. This movie fits into three genres: action, sci-fi, and drama. Unfortunately, the script does not balance those very well. Each genre does not get enough time to add tension to the overall plot. Now understand, this can be, and has been done well before (Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Star Wars), it just takes very talented writing to bring those together. This movie does not have that. However, the nail in the coffin for this uneven storytelling is the pacing. This movie is nearly 2 hours long when it easily could have been the usual runtime of an hour and a half. Heck, I think the story would have been stronger if they did that.
All in all, this movie had the most potential out of all of Tarsem’s films. It has competent direction, mostly commendable acting, some beautiful set design, and a decent premise (albeit a little average), but its unfinished story, and jumbled pacing prevent it from reaching its true potential. Self/Less gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a C+.