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Movie Review

Self/Less also known as “Selfless”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, some sexuality, and language.

Reviewed by: Pamela Gardner
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Sci-Fi Psychological Thriller Drama
Length:
1 hr. 56 min.
Year of Release:
2015
USA Release:
July 10, 2015 (wide—2,400+ theaters)
DVD: November 10, 2015
Copyright, Focus Features click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features Copyright, Focus Features
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Focus Features

This film’s tagline is “God created man. Man created immortality.” In reality, humans can never create immortality. Learn the truth about death, fall of man, eternal life, final judgment, and eternal death.

CANCER—Where did cancer come from? Answer

lust and fornication in the Bible

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.
Featuring: Ryan ReynoldsYoung Damian
Matthew GoodeAlbright
Ben KingsleyDamian
Natalie Martinez … Madeline
Melora Hardin … Judy
Michelle Dockery … Claire
Victor Garber … Martin
Sam Page … Carl
Derek LukeAnton
Mariana Paola Vicente … Leah
more »
Director: Tarsem Singh—“Immortals” (2011), “The Fall” (2006), “The Cell” (2000)
Producer: Endgame Entertainment
Ram Bergman Productions
Distributor: Focus Features

“God created man, man ‘created’ immortality.”

“Self/Less” tells the story of Damion Hale, an 80+ year old self made billionaire, and cut throat businessman, who is dying of cancer. He attempts to put things right with his estranged daughter to no avail. Fearing and feeling the weight of his own mortality, he learns of a scientific innovative procedure called shedding. This procedure has the ability to transfer his consciousness/soul into a much younger body so he can continue on with his life. After a life threatening episode, Hale (Ben Kingsley decides to undergo the shedding process. Leaving his old life/body behind, Hale wakes up in a new body played by Ryan Reynolds. There are conditions that come with his new body; he must take very special medication that reduces body withdrawals and “hallucinations,” and he cannot have contact with anyone from his old life. Things seem to going well until he misses a dose, and we soon learn the adage, if something seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Let’s start with the acting, it was executed very well. Ben Kingsley isn’t in the film very long, but his performance is compelling. Ryan Reynolds, who is not well known for his dramatic acting skills, blew me away. There was so much for him to take on as an actor, and he was on point. The supporting cast is just that, supporting a masterful plot and making it superb and authentic.

As for objectionable content, unfortunately there is a bit. There are multiple sexual scenes; there is not a lot shown, but it’s obvious what is being implied. There are a handful of blasphemous remarks, which, as usual, are completely unnecessary.

Now for the spiritual aspects, this film deals with the most important issue that we as humans face. Where will we go when we die? What comes after this life? How will people remember us? As Christians, we know first comes death and then we face judgment. What are we doing for the cause of Christ? Are we being bold in our faith, professing the truth of the Gospel?

Learn how to be more effective in evangelismStumped about how to share your faith in Christ with others? Our EffectiveEvangelism.com site assists Christians in effectively reaching out to others with love and truth. Learn about the worldview of the people you meet, ways to share the gospel, read stories submitted by site users, and more.

While the film takes a humanistic view of the soul and the afterlife, and existence in general, I think this film can serve as a great launching pad to share the truth of the Gospel. Because we all must die, and, in a world that’s growing darker and darker by the day, and in a country that is moving further and further away from the truth, we have been commanded to share the Gospel.

As for a recommendation, despite the objectionable material, I found the film compelling and a great conversation starter.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate to heavy—“Jesus” (3), OMG (3), “G*d-damn” (2), “God” (1), “good God” (1), “hell” (2), “damn” (1), f-word (1), s-word (7), a** (2), SOB (2) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Movie Critics

Self/less is cinematic escapism with soul self/less is cinematic escapism with soul… a plot that keeps me interested, a reasonable amount of action, and—just saying—a little eye candy. Self/less delivers all that and more in a twisty-turny, edge-of-your-seat story that requires more than a little suspension of disbelief but is definitely worth the effort. …
—Susan Ellingburg, Crosswalk

…a fast-paced thriller that will keep viewers guessing what comes next, with a light redemptive, moral worldview where the protagonist tries to fix the bad things he’s done, but some scenes seem splashed together and the positive content is marred by some Romantic elements, an anti-capitalist message, some foul language, and depictions of sexual promiscuity. …
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

…a fast-paced sci-fi thriller with too many contrivances… Reynolds tries hard, but he just can’t muster enough expression to make the character’s dilemma wrenching. …
—Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter

…“Self/less” sells the soul of its story to slick moviemaking… elaborately convoluted… squanders its intriguing premise with a loud and labored beat-the-bad-guys trajectory. …the result is a depressingly slick and empty house of cards that collapses under the weight of its muddled intentions. …
—Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

…All of it unfolds in the atmosphere of gaudy, portentous vacuity that is Mr. Singh’s trademark. …Mr. Reynolds is an appealing actor, and it’s easy enough to compensate for his limitations if you let yourself believe that he’s really Ben Kingsley the whole time.
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

…“Self/less” is far too shallow to be shelved under smart sci-fi, and as an action thriller it’s dull and predictable. Every time director Tarsem Singh roars away on what he thinks is a devastating twist, you’ll already be there, five minutes ahead and waiting for him to catch up. [1½/4]
—Kyle Smith, New York Post

…“Self/less” is exactly the movie you might expect, given its rating, its star and its summertime release: a crude, violent, intriguing popcorn flick. Too bad a better movie got lost along the way. …
—Paul Asay, Plugged In

…the narrative is schlocky and groaningly over-familiar, but the film is also uncharacteristically drab visually, with a washed-out colour palette and anemic pacing. … [1½/4]
—Nathan Rabin, The Globe and Mail

…a deeply silly movie that takes itself very, very seriously. …a misguidedly campy experience…
—Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press

…Things start going south following a giddy post-surgical sojourn in New Orleans during which we’re treated to a visual whirlwind of Young Damian testing the partying capacities of his new body. …though there’s a lot of action, little of it is illuminating or involving. …[2/5]
—Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle

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