Sunday, May 8, 2016

Self/Less: engaging!

Business tycoon and billionaire Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) is master of his own universe, until he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now on his deathbed, he finds a business card directing him to a man named Professor Albright (Matthew Goode), who informs him about a radical medical procedure called "shedding," in which one's consciousness is transferred to an artificially grown healthy body. Damian decides to undergo the procedure and engineers his own public death. Albright transfers him into a new body (Ryan Reynolds) and prescribes medication to alleviate the vivid hallucinations which he claims are side effects of the procedure.

After a period of adaptation exercises, Damian starts a new life in New Orleans under the assumed name of Edward Kidner and quickly befriends his neighbor Anton (Derek Luke). However, when he forgets to take his medicine, he subsequently suffers hallucinations of a woman and child. When Damian asks Albright about the hallucinations, Albright dismisses his concerns, but accidentally reveals that he knows details of the hallucinations that Edward did not tell him. Albright arranges for Damian to move to Hawaii for a change of scenery, but Damian, convinced the hallucinations are some kind of memory, researches a landmark he saw in his vision and heads to St. Louis instead.

At a farmhouse outside of St. Louis, he finds the woman, Madeline (Natalie Martinez), who identifies him as her apparently deceased husband, Mark. Damian learns, much to his horror, that the body he is inhabiting belonged to another man who sold himself to Albright in order to gain the money he needed to pay for their daughter Anna's life-saving medical treatment. Shortly after arriving at the house Damian and Madeline are attacked by Albright's men, led by Anton, who reveals that he is one of Albright's employees. Damian and Madeline severely wound Anton, escape, and collect Anna (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) from school before heading back to New Orleans. There, Damian researches Dr. Jensen (Thomas Francis Murphy), the man who invented shedding; Damian notices a tic he shares with Albright in a video of him and sees Albright in the same video as his assistant, and concludes that Jensen has shed himself into Albright's body.

Damian finds Dr. Jensen's wife, Phyllis, in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's and tries to get her to reveal where her husband's research is, but she does not know. Damian soon lures Albright to the home and confronts him. Albright reveals that the pills suppress the original personality of the body he is inhabiting; if he continues to take the medicine, his "Mark" personality will eventually be completely erased, while if he quits, Mark will reassert control over his body and kill Damian's personality instead. But Damian flees when more assassins show up, including another man who he recognizes as Anton due to the necklace that he is wearing. Anton reveals to Damian that he has shed multiple times.

At a rest stop, Madeline confronts Damian over his behavior and lack of knowledge of their personal details, and he reveals all that has transpired to her. He takes them to his old friend Martin (Victor Garber) and convinces him to provide for Madeline and Anna to flee to the Caribbean. However, he and Madeline discover Anna playing with Martin's young son Tony (Dylan Lowe), who died two years ago; Martin admits that he used shedding to save his son and that Albright's men are waiting for them. Damian then reveals the dark secret behind shedding to Martin, who believed that the bodies were artificially grown in a lab and is shocked to find out that his son's new body is really someone else's son. Damian flees to distract Albright's men while Martin, Madeline, and Anna escape. Damian manages to crash Anton's car with him in it and defeat his pursuers, but Madeline and Anna are recaptured.

Damian stops taking his medicine in order to experience more of Mark's memories, hoping they will lead him to Albright. This succeeds, and Damian pursues Albright to a lab built in an abandoned warehouse. There, Albright captures him and attempts to shed Anton into Mark's body, but Damian, remembering that metal interferes with the shedding process, takes a bullet casing in his mouth, therefore sabotaging the procedure and killing Anton in the process. He rescues Madeline and Anna and kills Albright with a flamethrower. Damian arranges for Madeline and Anna to flee the country as planned, meets his own estranged daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery), and delivers her a letter reconciling with her. He then heads to the Caribbean and stops taking his medicine, dying peacefully. The real Mark reawakens in his own body and discovers a video message from Damian's personality thanking him for the time he gave him. Mark then reunites with his family at last.

the premise of this movie is somewhat mind boggling. it would have been wonderful to be able to shed your body. however it becomes sinister when Albright becomes too possessive and outright sneaky about it.

i love the fact that Damian, though desperate to live, had finally resigned to the fact that he had to die eventually. i guess, the moral of the story is the strength of the film. carousing with women and living the fast life don't mean so much without family.. though Damian at first has Anton as his buddy, yet he couldn't help feeling empty. no wonder the glimpse of Maddy and Anna drove him to find the truth.

i wonder though, how convenient some things are for Damian.. i mean, it was so easy for him to spot Maddy's house just by googling the pumpkin tower in St Louis. then it was convenient that he didn't die during the shedding process whilst having a bullet casing in his mouth. plus how come there is a flamethrower in the lab? to what purpose? sigh..

by the by, as i said, the journey of Damian shows no matter how far you go, family is important. going back to a big house is no home to him, not with his daughter estranged from him.. so there you are, be thankful of your family :)

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