This frustrating bit of pulp is a waste of a clever idea. Ben Kingsley does his best Donald Trump impression as Damian, a greedy property mogul whose empire metastasises across New York’s skyline as aggressively as the cancer chewing its way through his body. Damian doesn’t seem quite as surprised as most of us would be when a dashing young stranger named Albright (Matthew Goode) introduces him to the idea of ‘shedding’, an experimental procedure in which a patient’s consciousness is magnetically transferred into a younger model.
And so, just minutes after the film begins, Kingsley is swapped out for a confused (and horny) Ryan Reynolds. This is a resurrection parable with all the integrity of a grave robber, its fragile premise hinging on Reynolds’s ability to connect Damian 2.0 to the person he used to be. But his snarky and suddenly compassionate version of the character doesn’t make him feel like a man reborn so much as a man rewritten. It’s a fatal flaw that unmoors any intrigue in Damian’s quest to uncover the insidious truth about Albright and learn the real cost of shedding (hint: the poor have to suffer for the rich to survive).
An expertly staged shoot-out in the second act only serves to articulate the film’s unrealised potential. Tedious and predictable, ‘Self/less’ is also far too long – and that might be the most damning problem for viewers who only have one life to live.