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What will it be like when future medical advancements make it possible to shift man's consciousness from that of a terminally ill body to the body of a healthy young man? Thanks to Tarsem Singh's new sci-fi thriller Self/Less, starring Ryan Reynolds, we can get a clearer picture of the aftermath of such a procedure. The bad news is that it's much darker than any of us ever imagined.
The above trailer sees Damian (Ben Kingsley), a wealthy powerful, old man dying from cancer, be offered an extremely interesting opportunity by a mysterious individual named Albright (Matthew Goode). Thanks to advances in medicine, he has the chance to undergo a procedure to remove his consciousness from his dying "vessel" and replace it inside a much younger, fully healthy body. When he takes Albright up on the deal, he is transferred into his younger self (Reynolds). But while his the immediate problem of dying is solved, he faces dire consequences as the truth of the origins of his new body comes to light.
I'm instantly drawn to the casting choices, all of which I think are right on for a film like this. Kingsley is a top-notch actor, as is Goode, and the two of them will undoubtedly play well off of one another. Goode is certainly no stranger to sinister characters (ex. Stoker, Watchmen, The Lookout) and Kingsley has a reputation as an Oscar-winning legend for a very good reason.
The casting of Reynolds for a film like this is also welcome in my book. Most recently seen in Atom Egoyan's child abduction conspiracy thriller The Captive, he reminds us how perfectly he plays in cinematic worlds that blend the "ultra serious" with "suspended reality." This isn’t the witty, one-liner throwing Ryan Reynolds that we are accustomed to, but he looks quite comfortable in this dramatic setting.
You can see right out of the gate that the film, with its extreme sci-fi concept, will demand some suspension of belief. But if one can get past the twist on the "body swap" premise, Self/Less promises to provide at least a few thrills over the backdrop of a very cool idea. While the idea behind the film a bit more sophisticated, a comparison could be drawn to John Woo's 1997 film Face/Off. Once you accept that Nicolas Cage is John Travolta and vice versa, you can move on and enjoy the ride. In other words, getting too caught up in technicalities or "holes in the story" will only serve to make for a lesser experience.
Focus Features' Self/less was written by David Pastor and Àlex Pastor (the duo who wrote Carriers) and directed by the aforementioned Tarsem Singh (The Cell). Michelle Dockery, Victor Garber, Derek Luke and Natalie Martinez co-star alongside Ben Kingsley, Matthew Goode and Ryan Reynolds. Look for the movie in theaters on July 31st.