Self/less Blu-ray review
It doesn’t look like it, but Damian Hale is closer to death than he ever has been, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is a leading businessman, tycoon and billionaire, having built an empire that has given him access to the city’s best views and the world’s best connections.
Hale (Ben Kingsley, in one of four big screen appearances this year; the others include Robert Zemeckis’ THE WALK and LIFE, in which he plays Hollywood mogul Jack L. Warner) is worried about dying—so much so that he has looked into a procedure called “shedding.” With “shedding,” his consciousness would be transferred into the body of a man much younger and healthier. It’s a privileged procedure that fewer than a dozen people have been granted. After collapsing in the office, Hale decides to confirm with Professor Albright (Matthew Goode, Morten Tyldum’s THE IMITATION GAME) that he will participate.
Albright initiates the process, putting Hale into the body of a man in his 30s who looks remarkably like Ryan Reynolds, which, if you’re going to start fresh with a new body, isn’t a bad deal. Hale (now, yes, Reynolds, who also appeared in MISSISSIPPI GRIND and WOMAN IN GOLD this year) relocates to New Orleans, where he begins having hallucinations. This leads him to St. Louis, where he learns more about the body he’s in and discovers that there are more drastic side effects to “shedding” than just nausea and headaches.
SELF/LESS has an enticing premise and poses questions like, Would we want to live longer if it was only partly us?, and, Is there good that could come out of such a procedure? But it never seems to want to develop them, instead opting to turn the movie into a conspiracy flick, complete with chases scenes and men in black. What also gets in the way is the collection of subplots that don’t add anything terribly compelling to the characters and link both versions of Hale in eye-rolling ways.
SELF/LESS is directed by Tarsem Singh, whose credits include 2000’s THE CELL and 2006’s THE FALL. Even when his movies lack depth (see: 2011’s THE IMMORTALS, 2012’s MIRROR MIRROR), they at least offer a wealth of imaginative visuals. SELF/LESS has none of that, making this effort both the laziest and ugliest in his filmography so far, an utter disappointment and one of the more empty sci-fi movies in recent years.
SELF/LESS puts on a mask that it has smart ideas but quickly reveals itself as shallow. Any of the questions posed in the first act are soon forgotten once the second Hale picks up his share of screen time. At this point, the audience is practically begged to ask, How can we change bodies with someone in another theatre?
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details are strong, colors are accurate and black levels are deep.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Dialogue is clean and the sound effects provide a nice atmosphere to the movie.
Feature commentary with director Tarsem Singh: Singh offers a thorough commentary in which he reflects on the production, heaps praise on the cast and more.
Inside SELF/LESS (6:47): This featurette uses on-set footage and interviews to offer a brief look at the stars and look of the movie.
On the Run: The Action of SELF/LESS (6:46): This piece focuses specifically on the action sequences.
Shedding (2:27): Cast/crew and experts discuss the procedure that plays an important role in the movie.