Friday, June 23, 2017

Self/Less

Year 9, Day 174 - 6/23/17 - Movie #2,669

BEFORE: Ryan Reynolds carries over from "Criminal" into another body-switching story - hey, it's "Freaky Friday", how about that?  Remember that old film where a mother and daughter switched bodies?  Then they re-made that film?  Then they made a bunch of knock-offs like "Vice Versa", "18 Again", "17 Again", "13 Going on 30" and so on?  Yeah, me neither, I avoid those films - but still, twice this week I'm dealing with body/mind swaps of a sort.  Last night Ryan Reynolds' mind got put into Kevin Costner's body, and tonight someone else's mind gets put into Ryan Reynolds' body.  That seems only fair, plus there must be room in there, considering what happened in "Criminal". 

THE PLOT: A dying real-estate mogul transfers his consciousness into a healthy young body, but soon finds that neither the procedure nor the company that performed it are quite what they seem.

AFTER: Oh, sure, the 1 percenters get to live forever, every time they get close to death they just get their mind transferred into a new body, and they can keep doing that as long as their bank account holds out.  They're told that the new bodies are "grown in a lab", but is that even possible?  Can we grow a body without a brain, without a soul?  Would we even want to - we can barely feed the number of people on the planet now. 

Of course this is movie science, so it's junk science.  How would we even make that transfer, basically downloading someone's memories and personality and putting them in the new vessel?  I mean, they don't physically move the old brain over, so how do they do it?  By electricity, or removing DNA with a needle, or making a map of the brain, or do they store the impulses on some kind of hard drive and then download everything into the new brain?  It's probably best not to think too hard about this, because the screenwriters here sure didn't.  Just look at the flashing lights and try to relax - this is the best advice for both the patient and the audience. 

Once in the new body, the old man, Damian, can do all kinds of things he couldn't do before, like play basketball and sleep with attractive women without paying them for it.  As long as he takes the mystery medication that makes the headaches go away.  (Shh...the mystery drug is probably aspirin...)  Oh, and they have to fake his death and transfer him to the new body with a new name and a new backstory.  He can't just pretend to be his own son or anything like that. 

But when hallucinations start to surface, and Damian finds himself heading for St. Louis instead of Hawaii, questions start to form about where exactly this body came from, and whether anyone was using it before.  This process of people "shedding" and then coming back in different bodies made for a confusing film, however, and I missed some of the clues that would have let me know that I was seeing the same character again in a new form. 

Naturally there are questions over what constitutes a person - is it the mind, the body, the soul, or the combination of all three?  It's too bad the movie couldn't take time to answer any of the questions it raised, probably because they had to leave room for the big car chase.  It seemed a little weird that a company that spent so much money moving a man's consciousness into a new body would then send so many assassins to kill him.  That seems a little counter-productive, no? 

Also starring Ben Kingsley (last heard in "The Boxtrolls"), Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode (last seen in "Copying Beethoven"), Victor Garber (last seen in "Sicario"), Derek Luke, Michelle Dockery (last seen in "Anna Karenina"), Melora Hardin, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Sam Page, Brendan McCarthy, Sandra Ellis Lafferty (last seen in "Prisoners"), Douglas M. Griffin (last seen in "10 Cloverfield Lane"), Marcus Lyle Brown (last seen in "Stolen"), Thomas Francis Murphy, with a cameo from Big Freedia.

RATING: 4 out of 10 flipped-over police cars

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