Self/less movie review: mind/less, brain/less, point/less

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Self/less red light

Glances at fundamental questions of identity and humanity and decides that they are best resolved via fistfights, gun battles, and car chases.
I’m “biast” (pro): mostly love Tarsem Singh’s films; big SF geek

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A ruthless old real-estate tycoon billionaire, Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley: Exodus: Gods and Kings), is dying of cancer, so he has his mind transferred to a younger body (Ryan Reynolds: Woman in Gold), as you do when you’re a ruthless old man wealthy beyond belief and terrified of your mortality. Of course he doesn’t ask the tough questions about the hush-hush project of clearly dubious morality, not even when the suave mad scientist in charge, Albright (Matthew Goode: The Imitation Game), smoothly notes with a slick grin that he’s not asking the right questions. This is because Damian is a ruthless old man drunk on the power and privilege that money has brought him, probably, and pretty much doesn’t have one teensy tiny scrap of feeling for anyone but himself. The utterly obvious secret of the procedure seems likely to be something that Damian already understood — hence his avoidance of questions he really didn’t care about the answers to anyway — but when he “discovers” that secret, he suddenly turns into a sentimental old coot in a young man’s body. The problems of plausibility here have little do with the technology of mind transference, however unlikely it may be, and everything to do with this emotional turnabout, which makes no sense whatsoever. Yet now the unconvincing motives of an unconvincing young Damian will drive a completely conventional plot toward its inevitable and 100 percent predictable conclusion. Even worse, the script, by the Spanish brother team of David and Àlex Pastor, glances at fundamental questions of identity and humanity and decides that they are best resolved via fistfights, gun battles, and car chases. By the time the movie completely falls apart at the end, having forgotten the already arbitrary rules it had set up for itself, we are well beyond caring. I don’t know why director Tarsem Singh decided to abandon his usual gloriously bonkers style — see Immortals and Mirror Mirror and especially The Fall — and go bland and boring, but it wasn’t a smart move.


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Self/less for its representation of girls and women.

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LaSargenta
LaSargenta
Thu, Jul 16, 2015 3:12pm

Well, I was already planning to avoid this due to Ryan Reynold’s presence; this review only gives me other reasons.

Constable
Constable
reply to  LaSargenta
Thu, Jul 16, 2015 3:55pm

I take it you don’t plan on seeing DeadPool then.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Constable
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 5:08pm

Right. But, that’s also for more reasons than just that I think that Ryan Reynolds as an actor has the depth of creme brulee and isn’t my kind of eye candy to even make a couple of hours in the theater worthwhile. Deadpool as a comics character is of no interest to me.

Constable
Constable
reply to  LaSargenta
Sun, Jul 19, 2015 5:02am

I know what you mean, I didn’t like him in Origins either. I’m still waiting for the day Marvel gives us a Rom the Space Knight movie.

spotty
spotty
reply to  LaSargenta
Fri, May 12, 2017 11:57am

And Deadpool is not smart, its self referentiality and apparent knowingness is plain boring , cynical and lazy and boring.Why? why does he exist? Aghhhhhhghghghgh,i cant stand it.

spotty
spotty
reply to  LaSargenta
Fri, May 12, 2017 11:54am

i just don’t get why he does it as a job and how on God’s green earth he gets hired to do it.

RogerBW
RogerBW
Thu, Jul 16, 2015 3:50pm

Ben Kingsley’s name is getting to be as big a warning sign as M. Night Shyamalan’s.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  RogerBW
Thu, Jul 16, 2015 5:20pm

Unless he’s doing comedy.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 5:20pm

At least he’s a decent actor. I mean, even in crap his performance is still good.

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  LaSargenta
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 5:23pm

This is true. He does sometimes give a very strong impression of phoning it in, but not every actor can be Michael Caine and use lousy scripts as an excuse to shine.