Self/less

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Self/less Movie Poster Image
Interesting sci-fi ideas wasted in routine storytelling.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Ultimately there's a message about sacrificing your own needs for someone else's. But it kicks in late in the film and until then there's a lot of selfish, destructive behavior without consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though the main character learns a valuable lesson, he's not exactly a role model. He is selfish and at times destructive.

Violence

Guns and shooting. Fighting. Man on fire. Burning car and house. Car crashes. Cough, spraying blood. Body checks during a basketball game.

Sex

Main character has anonymous sex with many women; images of them kissing and falling onto a bed, one after another, though no graphic nudity.

Language

One "f--k." Also "s--t," "damn," "son of a bitch," "balls."

Consumerism

iPhone/other Apple products, Google, Wikipedia, Nike shoes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Character drinks a martini at home. Social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Self/less is a sci-fi thriller starring Ryan Reynolds about a dying millionaire who gets the chance to buy a new body. The second half of the movie has lots of action/violence, including fighting, chasing, guns/shooting, car crashes, and houses and people on fire, though very little blood is shown. When the main character gets his new body, viewers see a montage of him kissing and falling into bed with several women; no graphic nudity is shown, but it's implied that he has many sexual partners. Language includes one "f--k" and sporadic uses of "s--t," "bitch," and "damn." Some social and/or background drinking is shown.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySwjean August 23, 2019

Good

I really feel it was a good movie
Adult Written byAlice M. October 23, 2017

Would of like to hear what was being said

I think I might of enjoyed it if I could of heard what the actors was saying. Like so many new movies being made today the music is loud it drowns out the word... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bymovie loving teen July 14, 2015

A Mess of A Movie But Fun None The Less.

Self/Less is a very flawed movie but it still delivers in terms of preformances which are all great and action which is flawlessly done and superbly shot. Serio... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAGK July 18, 2018

Awesome Action/Sci-Fi Flick

The suspense and story telling is amazing, but there are a few inappropriate elements though. There are a lot of sexual situations, and some of the violence is... Continue reading

What's the story?

Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) is wealthy, powerful, ruthless, and respected, though not without his regrets. He's also dying of cancer. Damian is approached by the mysterious Phoenix Biogenic institute, which is headed by a man called Albright (Matthew Goode), who offers Damian the chance to start over. For a price, he can leave behind his old life by "shedding" his old body and entering a new body (Ryan Reynolds). At first Damian has a good time, but he soon struggles with strange flashbacks. When an image of a water tower appears, he investigates. He meets Madeline (Natalie Martinez) and her daughter, who hold the key to his identity. And he begins to realize that Albright's fleshy scheme has a few sinister wrinkles.

Is it any good?

Former music video/commercial director Tarsem Singh (The Cell, Immortals) is generally known for making movies that are visually impressive and narratively pathetic, and this movie is no exception. The story of SELF/LESS has been borrowed in large part, without credit, from John Frankenheimer's Seconds (1966), a movie that took time to explore various themes of beauty and identity in a thoughtful way.

Self/less, on the other hand, doesn't do anything you could call thoughtful, and its sci-fi storyline seems almost arbitrary when compared to the rudimentary thriller climax. It all comes down to chases, escapes, and trying to catch the bad guy; it doesn't even appear to be trying. Singh's previous films featured impossibly huge sculptures and colorful dreamscapes, but the high point of this one is a gray, plastic labyrinth used for nothing more than the hero to hide in while closing in on his enemies. It could have been interesting, but Self/less is an empty vessel.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Self/less' violence. Is it meant to be thrilling or disturbing? How much is shown? Does action have to be gory to be upsetting? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • What does the movie have to say about male body image? Why do you think the main character uses his new body for anonymous sex so frequently?

  • What lessons do characters learn? Does the body-swapping experience help Damian become a better person? How?

  • Would you choose to buy a new body, if money was no object? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love sci-fi thrills

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