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Self/Less (2015), yet another Ryan Reynolds body-swapping movie.

June 7, 2017

MY CALL:  Just a mediocre Ryan Reynolds movie that, really, I’d only recommend to serious Ryan Reynolds fans unless you’re looking for a fun, kinda’ bad movie.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Self/Less:  Reynolds has done his share of mind and body swaps. Among them are Criminal (2016), RIPD (2013), The Nines (2007) and The Change-Up (2011).

Ben Kingsley plays a billionaire terminally ill with lung cancer who buys more time in the form of a lab-generated body.  Not since Bloodrayne (2005) has Kingsley seemed so disengaged from the camera. It’s as if he actively hates playing this role more than his character hates that he his dying.  Every effort is made to display his lush lifestyle including his home, which looks like an oil Sheik’s penthouse from Furious 7 (2015) complete with indoor fountains.  Who has an indoor fountain!?!?!  It’s pretty ridiculous.

The body he buys is that of Ryan Reynolds (The Change-Up, Mississippi Grind, Deadpool, The Voices, The Captive, Life).  At first it seems that some effort was made to have Reynolds speak like Kingsley, but as quickly as he adapts to his new body he likewise adapts to speaking just like the Ryan Reynolds we’ve all known from his last ten movies.

Remember how cool it was in Face/Off (1997) to see Nic Cage and feel like we were watching John Travolta?  Or how in Like Father, Like Son (1987) it was so obvious to us (the audience) that a prestigious and pretentious doctor (Dudley Moore) was inhabiting the body of his high school son (Kirk Cameron)?  Yeah, there’s not of that here.  And I’m not sure who to blame.  After all, Reynolds has almost always played some recognizably snarky iteration of himself—although in the recent Woman in Gold (2015) he truly shocked me with his abilities to play a more soft-spoken and tender character.  Not as impressive but still noteworthy were his performances in Buried (2010) and Mississippi Grind (2015).  Both had more than just a glimpse of the Reynolds we all know, but they forced him outside his comfort zone a bit and it worked.

So, when a Kingsley-inhabited Reynolds talks like a thirty-something Reynolds instead of a calculatingly patient, intellectual business mogul, I have to wonder if it’s his fault, the director’s (Tarsem Singh; The Fall, The Cell, Immortals), the writer’s, everybody???

Needless to say, this is not a strong recommendation. It’s fine as a hangover movie. It will liven up a boring Sunday afternoon. And, for Reynolds-completists like me, you’ll get some of that classic Reynolds flavor we’ve come to love.  But what we won’t find is a good film.


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