List Film

Self/less (2 stars)

Disappointing body swap thriller starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley


Tapping the DNA of myriad films like Seconds, Freaky Friday and Limitless, Self/less is as haphazard as that would suggest; it's a body swap thriller whose high-minded ambition is overwhelmed by a preposterous story and a reliance on action clichés.

Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to the body swap movie, having starred in 2011 comedy The Change-Up, and here he is the gleaming vessel for the mind of dying real estate mogul Damian (Ben Kingsley). After shadowy scientist Albright (Matthew Goode) completes the switch – a process that's never fully explained – Damian finds himself a much younger man; an experience shorthanded by a montage of speedboats, nightclubs and endless one-night stands. When he begins to suffer disturbing visions of a woman and a young girl, however, he is driven to discover the truth about his new physical form.

Although outlandish, this premise could have sparked some intriguing philosophising about ageing, identity and legacy, not to mention a juicy exploration of the murky moral codes that govern the super rich. Instead, David and Àlex Pastor’s too-simple screenplay glosses over any finer points of ethics or science, turning this into a story which, despite its high concept, is moulded from low-brow convention. As the narrative descends into a barrage of car chases and gunfights, the missed opportunities become a frustrating distraction.

Reynolds is a hugely likeable actor doing his best with yet another role that fails to draw upon the tremendous dramatic talent seen in films like The Nines or Buried, while both Goode and Natalie Martinez are reduced to stereotypes – smirking British villain and ditsy love-interest respectively – and the brilliant Kingsley is woefully underused. Director Tarsem Singh (The Fall, Mirror Mirror) brings his trademark visual prowess, but can’t disguise the fact that we’ve seen it all before, and done better, making the whole experience rather point/less.

General release from Fri 17 Jul.


  • 2 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 116 min
  • Directed by: Tarsem Singh
  • Cast: Matthew Goode, Ryan Reynolds, Michelle Dockery
  • UK release: 17 July 2015

In this disappointing body swap thriller, an elderly man who is dying from cancer undergoes a procedure to transfer his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man, but complications ensue when he learns about the origins of the body. Although outlandish, this premise could have sparked some intriguing…


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