Victor Hayes (Kingsley) is a billionaire dying of cancer. He discovers a new medical procedure called ‘Shredding’ where by one’s conciseness is transferred into an artificially grown body. Now known as Edward and living in a much younger, healthy body (Reynolds) Hayes enjoys his new life until he beings to experience bizarre hallucinations which draw him towards a family in St. Louis and to a confrontation with Shredding’s shady inventor (Goode).
Self/Less trades interesting ideas and the chance to explore moral ambiguities for by-the-numbers fights and standard chase sequences; becoming instead a serviceable but extremely predictable thriller. It leaves the sense that there is something deeper and far, far more interesting waiting to be mined.
The cast make it better than it should be. Reynolds mines the script for all the emotional weight that’s actually there, and convinces in an action role so much you don’t bat an eyelid when it turns out his body used to belong to a Marines badass with just the exact skills required for and his friends to survive the situation. Matthew Goode,who always seems to be on the verge of doing nothing at all, has a good turn as the ice-cool, sinister scientist while Ben Kingsley lends quiet dignity and force to the dying billionaire.
The Verdict: Self/Less is fun, bright and very slight. It’s as cheerful but shallow as one of the product commercials Singh used to direct and frustratingly leaves you with the feeling a much better film is trapped in the body of this one waiting to be given a new lease of life.