The opening scenes of “Self/Less” are promising. Ben Kingsley plays a rich industrialist who is dying of cancer and is offered the possibility of transferring his consciousness into a younger body. After Kingsley’s body is drained of life, he doesn’t die, but the movie does. Ryan Reynolds is a decent actor, but no replacement for Kingsley, and the script leaves behind all its promise for the negligible excitement of car chases and blazing guns. The dramatic turn of the script, rather than following through with the continuation of the character’s life in a new body, takes a fatal detour through a preposterous subplot in which he becomes involved with the wife and child of the man whose body he now occupies.
As a brainless action picture, “”Self/Less” is pretty good. Director Tarsem Singh has already proven his distinctive visual sense in the films “The Cell” and “The Fall,” and his fans will probably be happy with his work here. Visually, it stands heads above the competition, and the action scenes are staged and edited with style and skill. But the picture does not compare with “Seconds,” John Frankenheimer’s 1966 thriller that treats the same theme with more intelligence and terror.