Self/less Film Review

A film with a concept that could’ve blown up to become a hit movie – but turned out be yet another box office bomb.
Director Tarsem Singh produced a film with incredible concepts and interesting scientific ideas that by the end fizzled out to an action filled movie with a predictable plot. It is an enjoyable film to watch: what someone might call an easy film for a relaxed evening, containing cinematography that is pleasing to the eye and a story that is told decently well. The elegant introductory setting of New York, as usual, doesn’t fail to catch the viewer’s attention. It especially starts off with enormous potential, capturing the viewer’s interest with Ben Kingsley’s character of the rich powerful man and the mysterious scientific procedure that seems almost comic book like. Perhaps this very ‘comic-bookesque’ dramatization pulls the viewer in; transplanting humans into different bodies had always been sensationalized, shown as a miracle operation of a mad scientist. However, this becomes the problem of the film, these recycled ideas that are poorly repainted as fresh, and so unfortunately the film is rife with such clichés; bad guy turned good (Ben Kingsley, later Ryan Reynolds), the calculated ‘evil scientist’ with a greed for money (Matthew Goode), the wounded ‘damsel in distress’ with innocent children (Natalie Martinez), and the aggrieved man only striving to help his family (Ryan Reynolds). I believe more developed characters and perhaps a better exploration of the story containing these kinds of scientific procedures would have been a lot more engaging: the spiral into an unsurprising action thriller is what moved a potential distinguishable movie back onto the dusty shelf.
Nevertheless, the film still managed to hold my attention and be gripping in certain places – the tension created in certain scenes was certainly well done. It was a well-crafted film in terms of all of the special effects and twists in the plot, no matter how easy it was to predict the next turn. The acting was great at some points, yet mediocre in others. Yet as a whole it was simply not fleshed out enough to create a truly prominent, remarkable movie: Singh’s ambitious film contains a lot of highs and lows, but once you piece them together they paint a pretty prosaic picture.