When I first saw the premise of Self/Less, I was like “this sounds really good.” Then, as I was watching it, I thought “wait a second, this seems familiar. Oh yeah, this movie was almost entirely copied from John Frankenheimer’s ‘Seconds.” If you’re familiar with the 1966 classic, then I have to say, Frankenheimer did it better. If not, you might find Self/Less intriguing.
Damian (Ben Kingsley) is greedy real estate agent whose money can’t stop the terminal cancer that’s ripping through his body. He’d not ready to die, so it’s a bit of good fortune when a stranger named Albright (Matthew Goode) introduces him to the idea of “shedding.” In this, Damian’s conscious can be zapped into the body of a younger, healthier host. He jumps on board and jumps into the body of a confused Ryan Reynolds.
The premise is good. The problem was the character development wasn’t. Damien was supposed to be this jerky, Trump-like real estate mogul who owns half of Manhattan due to backbiting and backstabbing. But suddenly, once dumped into Ryan Reynolds’ body, he becomes all compassionate and charming. He doesn’t feel like an old man put into a young body. It just feels like I’m watching two different people.
While character development isn’t always a make or break, in a movie like this, where the entire premise hinges on it, it has to be. You need to make me believe that the grumpy old man really is inside Ryan Reynolds. If not, the entire premise falls apart.
In the better done Seconds, they actually achieved this. In the remake, they failed because of one reason.
Ryan Reynolds can’t act.
I’m not saying he’s not fun to look at. I’m not even saying I find him unlikeable. But you have to admit that Ryan Reynolds always plays the same exact character. The charming boy next door with a bit of a naughty streak. To pull off a movie like Self/Less, a one note character just doesn’t work.
All the action in the movie is driven by Damian trying to uncover the truth about Shedding. The problem with that is why does Damian even care? He’s a rich man who got rich by stepping on people. He takes another body without a second thought as to where it came from. Then suddenly, he cares and has to expose the evil people (who saved him from cancer) for what they are?
I just didn’t buy it.
The premise was great and with better leads, and someone with a bit more range, they might have pulled it off. But Damian’s 180 attitude change flaws the entire logic of the movie and makes it too hard to believe to be watchable. There’s no character development or motivation. It’s mainly like ‘.”
So the original that they didn’t even bother to mention is Seconds and it’s absolutely worth the watch. But this one does no credence to the original and it proves that sometimes seconds aren’t as good the second time around.
WE GAVE IT: 2.5 Stars