"Self/less" — what a perfect title for this science fiction/action-thriller of a film starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley.Telling you too much about why they chose to spell it with the "slash" would be giving too much away. Suffice it to say, it's creatively ironic. This original screenplay by David Pastor and Alex Pastor pushes the envelope of possible realities, allowing you to escape into a world in the very improbable and distant future.
Damian (Kingsley), an older, but extraordinarily wealthy business man is dying of cancer. The quest for eternal life, or at least the ability to prolong it, is a secretive reality in this film. Damian finds that money can buy everything, including a new and improved healthy body that is 35 years younger (Reynolds). This expensive and radical procedure has its drawbacks, and Damian is about to find out exactly what they are.
It's true that with age comes wisdom and in "Self/less," Damian buys himself a newer, slightly broken in model of a body. The transfer of Damian's brain is placed into a harvested body that just happens to be simply perfect. As Damian begins to experience memories not his own, he finds himself on a dangerous path to the truth. The story is completely far-fetched as was confirmed by Dr. Sliman Bensmaia, associate professor and researcher in neuroscience at the University of Chicago, in a question-and-answer session following the film (I'm going to trust those credentials). But with many movies, you have to let go of reality and suspend belief, and allow yourself to be immersed into the tall tale. This is quite true with "Self/less."
"Self/less" is a high action, shoot 'em up flick that bombards your senses as well as your common sense. We question — how far would we go to live a longer life and perhaps have the ability to trade in the worn out body for a model-type face and body? What are the moral boundaries that we would cross? Many of the beginning scenes with Damian and his new and improved youthful body are quite comical---think "young, single, gorgeous, and the opposite sex falling all over you. Also think about an unlimited expense account. Yes, there would be some fun to be had.
Although Ben Kingsley's actual screen time is very short, you still get a sense of him in Reynold's younger version. You don't realize that Mr. Kingsley is really no longer in the movie. Kingsley is a perfect fit to play Damian, the wealthy and meticulously rigid, yet brilliant business tycoon. Reynolds seems to find himself effortlessly playing young Damian as he slowly finds his true identity. You believe he is truly undergoing a metamorphosis. To be able maintain Damian's persona in just the right increments is really quite impressive. Matthew Goode, who you might recognize from "The Imitation Game," clearly can embody an evil narcissistic egomaniac. Of course, we have the damsel in distress and the adorable little girl that we want to protect. This rounds out all aspects of the cast to give us a high-tension, fast-paced action film.
As a science fiction film, "Self/less" finds itself a bit too far-fetched to be on par with a Ray Bradbury story. The ridiculous fight scenes complete with machine guns, martial arts, and good old fashioned fisticuffs bring this film down a few notches as well. But that's not to say it's not entertaining. It is. "Self/less" brings up some amusing ethical questions which delight our fantasy world. The chase and fight scenes hammer home the truth that this is truly a fictional film with no sense of reality. If you're looking for an amazing science fiction thriller, go see or rent "Ex-Machina." And by the way, the neurophysicist agrees with me!