SELF/LESS REVIEW

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Pace less BUT for all the negative press, I still found this quite watchable.

A dying real estate mogul (Sir Ben Kingsley) transfers his consciousness into a healthy young body (Ryan Reynolds), but soon finds that neither the procedure nor the company that performed it are quite what they seem.

It may have been cliched, plot hole ridden and a little patchy in places BUT the action sequences were fast, fierce, racy and Reynolds was on fine form. AND for a good portion of the film, I was entertained.

The opening act was slow burning but intriguing. A slick and ruthless Kingsley delivering DeNiroesque gravitas to the role of the ailing billionaire. To be honest, I would have been happy to watch his normal life as the dying mogul. His lesson with a young rival was compelling stuff.

BUT the sloppily put together relationship with his estranged daughter? Not so much. It’s great to see Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery popping up in more movies. But not in such weak supporting roles. Dull, cliched and boring. A waste. And a pointless character by the closing credits.

We follow Kingsley wallowing in his highly extravagant and isolated apartment as he must come to terms with his own mortality. The one thing in all his years he hasn’t been able to conquer. Until now.

Cue the slick but incredibly smarmy scientist Dr Albright. Matthew Goode was brilliant as the mysterious mastermind. The concept of body swapping/mind swapping was quite interesting. Can you put on a price on life? Would you do it?

BUT we know he does. Or else there wouldn’t be a movie. Tragically that means there is one massive Kingsley-sized void when the deed is done. BUT have no fear. Reynolds is here. He played the role quite well. Good to see him doing it seriously. The guy can be hilarious but I’m fed up of the fast talking douche.

The premise was handled with the right balance. A slight hint of believability. Or enough to make you buy into it. It was a nice touch seeing Reynolds in the early stages of his ‘infancy’ as he must learn to walk again.

It did require a little patience. You get the sense of his struggle within two minutes not twenty. BUT it did make a change to see him having to adjust and look like he’s actually gone through an experiment. Unlike Face/Off. Quick laser zap here and voice alter there. Done. (I love Face/Off. Man, I want to watch that right now. Anyway . . . )

I loved the one liners, “It still has that new body smell”. Cheesy but it did the job. Of course, once Reynolds has adjusted; he does what any elderly billionaire would do with a shed load of cash and Ryan Reynolds’ body! Get smashed, drive fast cars, get jiggy with the ladies and play basketball.

It chugged along. BUT it did lull. Luckily, not everything is as it seems. Strange fits and random memories of someone else’s life start plaguing the mind of our playboy. And thankfully, the film finds it’s stride . . . in places.

Damian soon realises that the “vessel” may not be all it cracked up to be. It’s all rather predictable as he asks too many questions and threatens to reveal the organisation to the public after discovering he has taken someone away from their family.

Cue an action packed race (Hmm) as Damian must fight to save his life and whoever the hell he has in his mind and his family.

Natalie Martinez (Under The Dome) did what she could with the role as the confused wife. BUT she was too whiney and mopey. The scenes with her and Reynolds were way too cliched for you to really care. It didn’t help that she kept asking the same monotonous questions. After Damian clearly says repeatedly, “I have no idea”.

Empire’s Derek Luke didn’t do a bad job as Anton. I just wish his henchman wasn’t so bland and unintentionally comical. Once the body/mind swapping ploy is introduced, he keeps popping up as a new face in every scene. It should have been sinister but it just showed how easy he is to dispose of. Wiped out every time he clashes with Reynolds. Oh dear.

Oh yeah. I forgot to say. Lucky for Damian that he’s managed to take the body of a highly trained marine whose skills conveniently kick in every time danger is afoot. The action scenes were quick, furious and quite violent. Apart from the bad body double punch up in the kitchen, I was impressed.

It was the much needed catalyst to get this film going. And it picked the film up every time the corny story line or pace seemed to linger. The final 20 minutes were actually quite good.

It was certainly watchable as Damian has to make a choice. To save this family and the mind of the body he took or . . . NOT. There was a good portion in which I thought things would take a darker turn as he tries his utmost not to help. BUT the end result was tragically predictable.

Matthew Goode was a dastardly villain. BUT he took the back seat for too much of the film. Only reappearing for the finale. A waste of a good character. And for all his secrecy, he was picked apart quite easily.

Things did get unbelievably corny in parts and killed the little tension that the film could muster. There was one scene. Hardly spoilerific. BUT while in hiding, the adorable Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen asks the man possessing her daddy’s body to teach her to swim. Wow. What do you know? There’s a pool round the back. And they must have remembered to pack her little bathing suit while being shot at. Delightful.

facepalm

Victor Garber was fantastic as Kingsley’s closest friend and business partner. His likeable supporting character actually gets a little subplot. Well, minuscule. BUT it only manages to pierce more holes in the flimsy plot as a “revelatory twist” ended up asking more questions than answering them.

Now did anyone else this but after seeing all the posters that maybe Kingsley would reappear in some other capacity? I thought that every time Reynolds would look in the mirror, he would see Kingsley. Or better yet have Kingsley talk to him. BUT NO! Missed a trick there. Gutted.

Watchable enough. Helped by a charismatic lead in Reynolds. Good action set pieces. BUT too many cliches and a questionable two hour running length spoil something that could have been so much more.

2.5/5

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BIG GAME REVIEW

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BIG, DUMB, LAME?

There’s only one way to find out.

The trailer looked ridiculous. I really had low expectations. BUT yet I came out after those mental 90 minutes with a guilty smile. And all I can say is this film is BIG FUN!

Samuel L (The L stands for Mother F**ker) Jackson takes on the iconic presidential role (About time!) in this 12A hampered action packed tour de force.

So what’s it about? A young teenager (Onni Tommila) camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States (Samuel L Jackson) when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.

If you looked at that premise and shook your head, then this really isn’t for you. It’s silly, OTT but hilarious. For the right reasons? Well, that will be up to you.

Brought to you by the people that made Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Now that should give you a picture of what to expect. Ridiculous concepts played straight. A dangerous game but it almost worked.

The opening was a little slow burning. All the ridiculousness bubbling in the background. We are introduced to Tommila’s Oskari as he set on a big game hunt by his father. An ancient tradition among the local village that a young boy must take to achieve the path of manhood. Blah, blah, blah.

Tommila’s deadpan expression and dry delivery really made the film for me. I normally find when teenagers are the lead characters in movies like these; they instantly grate against me. Not this time.

Tommila and SLJ were a great pairing. An unexpected one but a good one, none the same. SLJ has proven before that he can make silly premises watchable. Snakes on a Plane was relentless BUT a typical grade A B movie flick (A B? You know what I mean).

Their introduction was hilarious. The plane crash being mistaken for an alien spaceship by the young hunter was corny but the exchange between the pair was worth it. You could tell SLJ was having a laugh especially when Oskari throws POTUS two cups on a string. “Don’t hang up. Did I really just say that?”

The whole terrorist ploy to kidnap the President in a Finnish forest was hammy. All the elaborate and destructive planning just to take some pictures of POTUS and then kill him anyway? Don’t think into it too much.

Luckily, Mehmet Kurtulus’ (Equilibrium) Hazar is so demented and OTT that he takes the attention away from that little niggle. He’s that reckless that you could almost believe his stupid intentions. His missile testing game may have been a rip off of The Jackal but it was quite dark for a 12A using villagers as target practice.

Director Jalmari Helander has an impressive Hollywood cast at his disposal. It was a shame that not all of them were used to their potential. I mean, the presidential back staff that sat watching the chaos in a secure communications room consisted of the likes of Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs), Victor Garber (Alias) and Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter)!

All of them playing generic stock characters that were highly unmemorable. Well, Broadbent was the exception. He didn’t do a half bad American accent and I really wished his character had more screen time.

Ray Stevenson was actually quite good as the disloyal bodyguard. He has finally mastered the accent after so many poor renditions. *Cough* The Punisher: War Zone *Cough*

For all it’s silliness, it was strange seeing SLJ playing the role quite seriously. Normally in these stupid action movies or iconic classics i.e. Air Force One, the president instantly becomes a badass and disposes all of the baddies while his highly trained security detail are removed in the first act.

SLJ’s presidential character was quite weak. Flailing around and being knocked about. A little more realistic. If you can say that. It made a change. The badass attitude very much on the shoulders of Oskari.

His stand off with Stevenson’s bodyguard was comical. “Don’t worry, Mr. President. I got this”. Pinging a tiny arrow four inches into the ground.

Considering it was a 12A, it was highly violent and very dark. A scene in which SLJ looks up to see a trail of bodyguards sprinkled across the slope was a little graphic BUT the last 30 minutes was mental. More of what I expected from the get go.

OTT, fast, furious and oh so stupid! The freezer sequence had so many mixed emotions for me. Rolling down a ravine. Flying off a cliff. Dodging bullets. Words escape me.

It zipped along. Ended incredibly violently and oh so cornily. BUT I came out with a grin.

Did Jackson get to say his infamous punchline? I hear you ask. “You got to cock it, motherf-” Alas, the dreaded 12A certificate rearing its ugly head.

If you’re up for a laugh and a corny B movie actioner, then look no further. If you’re not, then keep on looking.

3/5