Critics Consensus

Self/less boasts a potential-packed premise, but does frustratingly little with it, settling for lackluster action at the expense of interesting ideas.



Total Count: 140


Audience Score

User Ratings: 23,842
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Movie Info

In this provocative psychological science fiction thriller, an extremely wealthy man (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley) dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds). But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body's origin and the secret organization that will kill to protect its cause. (C) Focus


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Critic Reviews for Self/less

All Critics (140) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (114)

  • Tragically, the film itself is as dumb as a doorknob.

    Jul 17, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • There's a Twilight Zone premise - though sadly no Twilight Zone brevity or script discipline - to this sci-fi thriller.

    Jul 16, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • A sci-fi thriller so derivative of John Frankenheimer's masterfully paranoid Seconds it would be more accurate to call it Thirds, Tarsem Singh's Self/less is a generic waste of a clever idea.

    Jul 13, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    David Ehrlich

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Tarsem Singh has a reputation for making movies that are visually stunning but woefully inert and convoluted in their storytelling (see The Cell and The Fall). Singh's most recent film, Self/less, lives up to at least half of that reputation.

    Jul 13, 2015 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • What starts out as an interesting exploration of identity soon gives way to the uninspired, generic action flick we had feared it always was.

    Jul 12, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Deep under the skin of this shrug of a movie is a solid metaphor rooted in an appealing fantasy.

    Jul 12, 2015 | Full Review…

    Tasha Robinson

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Self/less

  • Jan 02, 2017
    a wee bit too contrived
    Ed K Super Reviewer
  • Dec 15, 2016
    This movie has a good concept, there's no denying that. But just because this has a good concept doesn't mean that it is a unique one. I can think of two movies off the top of my head that have similar concepts. Criminal, also with Ryan Reynolds, has a concept where the consciousness of this cop (Reynolds) are transplanted onto this criminal, played by Kevin Costner to help them solve a series of terrorist attacks and find out who's behind. And there's also this small independent film called Advantageous that takes a more character-driven approach to this concept. It looks at a mother who, having been fired from her job due to her age, transplants her consciousness onto a new body that would allow her to keep her job and give her enough money to get her daughter into this prestigious school. Obviously, of the two, Advantageous is the better movie. And I'm sure those two aren't the only films with similar concepts, that's just the first two that come to mind. So, where does Self/Less fall when compared to those films? Honestly, kinda in the middle. I thought it was better than Criminal, because I think it made use of its ideas and themes in a more effective fashion. But it falls short of Advantageous, because it substitutes legitimate character development for action sequences. And I'm not even saying that this is a bad movie because of that fact, because it's not actually a half-bad movie if you really look at it objectively. Or maybe it is and my judgment is clouded, but I didn't think this movie was bad. Yes, it doesn't use its interesting themes and ideas nearly as effectively as they possibly can, but the movie can be entertaining in short bursts. And I say that because, obviously, it's not a consistently entertaining flick. I think part of the problem is the fact that, really, they try to mix two types of films. I don't wanna say they want to go for an art-house feel, because they don't even come close to attempting that, but they go for something more thought-provoking than your typical action movie. But it also wants to be a popcorn movie. I do think you can mix those two genres can be mixed successfully, like Looper, and that's really what this film goes for more than anything. It wants to go after the Looper crowd, but it doesn't mix its two elements as successfully as Looper did, that's for damn sure. Because, at its core, in spite of the fact that it did have some pretty exciting action sequences, Looper never actually forgot the character at the core of its story. And I don't wanna say this movie forgets them, but it doesn't develop them past a basic level. You could say they're fairly one-dimensional and all of that. So that's where, to me, this movie falls apart. The fact is that the characters really are very generic and there's nothing, in spite of the concept, that's truly all that interesting about the characters. The only thing interesting about the characters is the fact that Damian, who sees flashes of Mark's memory when he was alive, struggles with the idea that, if he doesn't take his pills, which erase a bit of Mark's memory one pill at time, Mark will eventually take over and be able to go back to his family. They do a shit job at explaining how, a dead person, the body they use to transplant the consciousness onto, can come back to life after having already died. But it allows them to give you the happy ending of ***SPOILERS*** Mark being able to go back to his wife and daughter. And, outside of the basic character development, that is really the worst part of the movie. Like that major plot hole. It is what it is. But, like I said, this movie is entertaining in short bursts. It's not a bad movie in the slightest, it's only average at best. I can't say that you should go out of your way to see it, it offers nothing special, which is disappointing given the concept, but it's a pretty decent movie regardless.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2016
    Surprisingly engaging, creative, and an overall fun ride--Self/less is a film that surprises. In it we find a dying real estate mogul (who oddly lives in what appears to be Trump's penthouse) desperately looking to keep himself going. An offer comes his way, allowing him to seemingly start a new life with a new body. But, alas, nothing is as it seems. I went in to the film expecting some sort of B movie, but the film is rather surprising in that it offers some interesting twists, has some really good action, and good acting. Though not a fan, I must admit that Ryan Reynolds was even a good fit for his role. The character switch that occurs is actually rather seamless, and the film feels cohesive and immensely intriguing. There's some cliches and retreads, to be sure, but ultimately it feels like a satisfying and fun ride. A competent science fiction piece.
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 04, 2016
    Even Len Wiseman would probably say no to this.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer

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