AM At The Movies: ‘Self/Less’

Above: Ryan Reynolds stars in the new sci-fi, 'Self/Less'

What do you do when you have way more money than you’ll ever need, a daughter who will barely even talk to you, and terminal cancer? Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) is a New York billionaire in that exact predicament at the beginning of Self/Less. He knows he only has a few months to live, but he feels like he didn’t do anything with his life besides accumulate wealth.

The “money doesn’t buy happiness” moral is at the forefront of the entire film, popping up over and over in not-so-subtle ways. First, Hale’s penthouse in Manhattan is so over the top with ornate gold and marble walls, ceilings, and even furniture, that it looks like he hired an interior decorator and said, “the most frivolously expensive EVERYTHING, please!” Next, when he tries to reconcile with his estranged daughter (who runs a non-profit) by handing her a cheque, she sighs like this is what he always does. His idea of showing love is throwing money at her.

Hale may have money, but with no one to pass his wealth and legacy on to, he realizes he doesn’t have much after all. When he finds out about a mysterious company that may be able to help him, he decides to go check it out.

What he finds is a new and controversial procedure called “shedding” that transfers his entire consciousness into another, much younger and healthier, body. Hale is reluctant at first (as he should be), but he feels as though he has no other choice, and agrees to the procedure. After a quick consciousness transfer, Damian wakes up in his new body, which looks exactly like Ryan Reynolds. Needless to say, Damian is a little disoriented at first, but with a regular bright red pill, and a little physiotherapy, he’s good to go.

Since “shedding” is top secret and only available to the extremely wealthy, Damian Hale is now deceased as far as his former life is concerned. He is now known as Edward, and New Orleans is his new home. He does some partying, and remembers what it’s like to be young, attractive, and extremely wealthy. But when he forgets to take his red pill one day, he starts having memories that aren’t his.

When he agreed to “shedding”, Damian was under the impression that the body he would be inhabiting had been grown through stem cells in a lab. But it turns out that wasn’t exactly the whole truth. Now he has to figure out if he’d rather ignore his suspicions about where his new body really came from, or go searching for the origin of his new memories.

Self/Less is a remake of a 1966 film called Seconds, which was adapted from a novel of the same name. The desire to start all over and leave all your regrets and mistakes behind you isn’t a new concept. But, as Damian Hale finds out, it’s something that’s more appealing in theory than it is in practice. Even when you think the choices you make aren’t affecting anyone else, that’s never really the case.

Self/Less is a typical sci-fi action movie that doesn’t really present anything new, but it still makes you wonder if immortality is something you would want if it were possible. Maybe, you think, if there weren’t any consequences. But there are always consequences.

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