What would you pay for immortality? What would you take from others to achieve it? This is the subject of the film, Self/Less, staring Ryan Reynolds and Natalie Martinez. The premise is that a dying billionaire wants to stay alive, so he spends $250 million on this procedure called "shedding", where, like a snake, he sheds his dying body and his mind is moved into a laboratory grown, genetically healthy, younger man. Or so he thinks. And there's the rub.
So the first third of the movie is about a dying man now in a young body, being able to do all the fun things he can possibly do with his unlimited source of funds. It's everyone's dream to be able to relive your youth now that you're smarter, wiser and richer. If you were poor, I don't think it would be that much fun. Who wants to live on the street and eat out of garbage cans for eternity?
The premise of this movie has been done before. In fact, the subject of immortality is used very often in fiction: books, films, even TV shows. Here's a short list. Vampires live forever (unless killed), Q in the Star Trek: Voyager TV series, Dr. Henry Morgan in the current TV series Forever, Highlander, The Wolverine in X-Men, and the 1966 John Frankenheimer film, Seconds. The list goes on and on. There are so many different areas of discussion that can be generated from this subject, I don't think that there's enough paper left to write about it (thank goodness for digital media). In some cases, immortality is a blessing, others it's a curse (I think mostly a curse, but that's my own personal opinion). Think about it, would you like to spend the rest of your life learning how to use the next generation iPhone?
The philosophical question is always what price do you pay for immortality? If you're a typical Hollywood mogul, your philosophy is to step all over anyone at any cost to achieve your goals. But what happens after that? Are you totally void of humanity? Would you try to save the life of another or give up what you have in order to help someone less fortunate? This is a great subject for discussion, so I was hoping to obtain some of these views in this film.
This is a good film, but could have been much better. It had great locations of New Orleans, good action sequences and good performances (don’t worry ladies, you’ll have plenty of shots of Ryan Reynolds’ six-pack abs). However, the story was very shallow. It skipped over all of the issues in dealing with exactly how you 'shed', and skipped right to the action scenes. Once our hero found out what was the true cost of shedding, the balance of the movie was one shoot 'em up scene after another. The bad guys keep trying to kill the good guy in order to keep him quiet about the real costs of 'shedding'. Eventually the good guy triumphs over the bad guys, hooks up with the girl and her daughter on a remote tropical island in the middle of nowhere, and that's where the story ends. Sounds more like a prison than a tropical paradise.
Self/Less had the opportunity to be something better, but they just took the short way out to an action film, instead of a more intriguing story. I guess a better title would have been called “Shedding”, because everyone at the screening that I spoke with couldn't explain the meaning of the title.