"Immortality Has Some Side Effects."
It’s not even that this is a terrible set-up. It’s cliché, but lots of science fiction tropes are at this point. The problem with “Self/Less” is that NOTHING is done with this initial set-up. Every beat comes after the previous one in a predictable, neat, safe pattern, leading to a saccharine climax that wraps up the story in a neat little bow…except it doesn’t, because a lot of larger questions about the world are left unanswered by the script. Writers Alex and David Pastor create a bubble arch for Damien Hale, a story that only affects himself and the people in his immediate circle, giving no thought to the greater implications of the things they’ve set in motion. The story is further hampered by the paper-thin motivations of the majority of characters in the script. Damien Hale wants to be reborn because…nobody wants to die, right? His daughter (Michelle Dockery) won’t accept his monetary donations to the non-profit she runs because…you weren’t around enough when I was younger, dad, so you don’t get to help me at all now (drink). This corporation wants to make it so rich people can live forever because…why? Beyond the initial explanation (for science!), why is it vital that this experiment be carried out to the point where anyone who interferes has to die? It all feels so weak and forced.
Tarsem Singh directs this film with skill and calculated quickness, leading to the unfortunate side-effect of making everything else in the film seem worse. His actors are playing it straight, hyper-serious in a project where some lighthearted camp might have saved the whole thing. Reynolds especially feels stiff and awkward, words that don’t suit an actor who usually feels much at ease in front of the camera. There are multiple moments where his character lights someone on fire. This would be fantastic if it wasn’t made to seem inevitable. Even over-the-top moments are dulled and normalized.
All this being said, “Self/Less” isn’t a horrible film. But it is dull (“Life/Less” if you will), and that is a death knell for any science fiction story. Pop in a “Bourne Identity” DVD and you’ll get the experience you hope for.
I do remember some guy drinking a PBR in the middle of this movie, so that might be a good route to go down. Cheap and over quick. This opposite of this film.
-Drink whenever Damien has a “hallucination”.
-Drink for gunfire.
-Drink when something breaks
-Drink when Damien takes a pill or asks about his pills
-Drink whenever Damien or others take a form of transportation other than walking or running.
This review was written by Hollis Beck (Krissy Pappau). “Self/Less” is produced by Endgame Entertainment and distributed by Focus Features. This film is rated “PG-13” with a runtime of 116 minutes.
Special thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, and Antonia Beck. Your donations made this post possible!