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A Wasted Premise In 'Self/less'

Self/less starts out with a very promising thesis, when Ben Kingsley, a trillionaire who feels life slipping away from him, buys a new body into which his mind is transferred for a good many more years of life. But he gradually comes to realize that he has bought more than he bargained for-- he has thoughts and memories that are not his own, and they seem to be gaining control of him.

This should have allowed a good deal of creepiness as he begins to suspect that the original owner of his new body may not have been completely normal. Nothing new, of course, but the old Frankenstein theme has been worked so many times that real originality would be a lot to expect.

But about the last thing I would have expected is an attempt to make an action melodrama full of gunfire and car chases and reckless driving and narrow escapes, and that's what Self/less turns into. The guns are noisy and the villains can't hit anything and the car chases are exciting and the heroine and child are repeatedly endangered and all seems hopeless again and again, but I felt that somebody had sneaked another movie in on me.

The plot was clear enough and the science, what there was of it, was based on speculations that are actually going on. The internal action is not confusing, even if its lack of mystery keeps it from being very effective. Conspiracy theory rapidly ratchets up the corporate ladder in a series of mano-a-mano kickboxes in which our heroine proves suspiciously proficient.

Taken all in all, Self/less is a movie that starts out strong and then starts losing ground and gives up on its promising premise, and tries unsuccessfully to become something easier. It has its moments all the way through, but as a whole, it's a mess.