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SELF/LESS

July 17, 2015

Film + EntertainmentReview | by Francesco Cerniglia


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Living forever comes at a price. Self/Less is a tense and exciting thrill ride as one man begins to uncover the lies behind his “immortality”. An amazing watch and a brilliantly made film, elegantly touching on an otherwise, cheesy concept to reinvent the style of modern sci-fi.

Master industrialist Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley), a self-made millionaire, labeled as “the man who built New York”, has started to realise that his days are numbered, when the cancer he has been battling begins accelerating. Considered a legend in his field as well as one of the greatest minds of his time, he is reminded that his life’s work is his legacy and that it will help his name become immortal, but somehow it’s not enough for Damian. He seems unwilling to accept his own mortality. So Damian looks into a radical medical procedure called “shedding”.

Albright (Matthew Goode), who explains the procedure of shedding, is proprietor of this experimental technology and Damian learns that life doesn’t have to be cut short by the limits of the human body. Damian’s consciousness and memories would be transferred into a body of perfect health and prime physical condition (Ryan Reynolds).

Albright argues that men of such extraordinary minds, deserve more time on this earth. Damian undoubtedly agrees, and wakes up in his new body full of life and strength, ready to start his new life as “Edward”. But not all is as it seems since Edward’s new found freedom is nothing but an illusion and he starts to uncover the mystery of his new body’s origin, and the secrets behind the organisation that will stop at nothing to hide the truth.

From the visually stunning director Tarsem Singh (Immortals, The Cell), we get the latest addition to the new wave of science-fiction thrillers that are taking the world by storm. This film follows the familiar formula in which technology appears to offer a miracle, only to backfire with nightmarish results. But the big question is how does this film hold up against recent examples of similar fare, such as Limitless, Lucy and Transcendence?

Well, the idea of one person transferring consciousness from one body to another isn’t exactly original, but Self/Less manages to, initially, put a unique spin on the sci-fi cliché, with its realism and humanised elements. For example, rather than overloading the film with mindless action sequences and fictional futuristic technology, the film focuses on “New Damian”’s relationships with the people he meets as well as the moral battle within himself about right and wrong, while the technology used and the recovery process we witness after the procedure appear very current and modern.

However, the similarity to its predecessors in sense of style and structure cannot go un-noticed. For example the “living life to its fullest” montage in the film is inevitably reminiscent of the one in Limitless, not to mention the constant dream-like state you feel while watching both films.

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Although the story is not as original within the sci-fi world as we would like it to be, the film is superbly directed and showcases some amazing performances from both Ryan Reynolds and Matthew Goode.

Self/Less is a brilliant thrill ride and an emotional roller coaster, as one man finds the true cost of living forever.

Self/Less is released in UK cinemas on July 17th

Charlie Quirke