Plenty – as it turns out, there are a few side effects involved with body-swapping; namely, the history of the body’s previous owner, which keeps breaking through in a series of blurry, arty flashbacks. He is losing his life just as much as if he had died, only this way he gets to stick around and mourn. After a couple of large scale blockbusters, Singh takes it down a notch with the junky B-grade thriller Self/Less, a hodepodge of thriller elements that barely even gives Singh any opportunities to trot out the souped-up, nightmarish visuals that have become his stock in trade.
Of course, that may also explain why not many people have seen Seconds.
In your typical thriller, someone stumbles on a conspiracy, usually after something bad has happened.
When an unknown friend puts him in touch with an elite, invitation-only group, he has a chance to be part of an experimental, secretive program that transfers consciousness from one body to the next. They’re now offering you posthuman enhancement. Hurt learns of a procedure called “shedding”, wherein a person’s mind and soul are transferred into a healthy new body. In the opening scene, he destroys a young competitor who is aiming to encroach on his real estate empire. Ryan also mentioned that while scoping out penthouses for the film, some of the billionaires they spoke to were genuinely interested in the possibility of body swapping to his surprise. Then, the action sequences are all pretty OK, but they’re nothing spectacular.
In the end, the whole thing is about individualism, and how valuable a single individual can actually be.
Here, the dying man, Damian (Kingsley), is possibly the worst person in the world. We’re told again and again that Kingsley “built” Manhattan, and that he’s a brilliant mogul.
So it came to pass that, on a recent morning, the motion picture Self/less unfolded before me. This was the case for everyone except Ryan Reynolds. A work-obsessed old man regains his youth and gets to live the hedonistic life he never got to live because he was concentrating on his business.
Along the way, the film stops asking questions about the nature of mortality and the lengths to which men will go to gain another 50 years of life. And Damian, a trained killer, finds he has the ability to fight back.
Suffice it to say that “Edward” has a few more miles on him than advertised as well as some special skills (as in special forces) that come in handy once he starts asking too many questions and finds himself on the run from a vast Phoenix Biogenic goon squad, led by the hard-to-kill Anton (Derek Luke).
“The fact that we have a limited lifespan gives you an impetus to do something”, Higgins said. And Damian has no answer to that.
It could have used more of Tarsem’s distinctive Tarsem-ness, as well, especially in a story with a similar hook as The Cell.
Not what you’d expect?
After some basketball games, one-night stands, and enjoyment of New Orleans’ jazz scene, Damian starts to wonder why he has visions of a sick little girl, and a handsome Latina woman.
And Self/Less, for a film about weighty issues of ethics and selfhood, is amazingly forgettable. That wasn’t lost on me, but even that felt like it was done as more of a coincidence than any premeditated attempt at depth. Self/Less will hold up well even if you take an Ambien halfway through watching it. While the film does present at least one interesting twist on this premise (a henchman switches bodies whenever he’s grievously injured), it’s not played well enough to fully reap the clever dark humor of the situation. Along with Limitless and Self/Less, Lucy comes to mind. Make that five times the brains.