Ryan Reynolds is going to make a major comeback in Hollywood very soon, but unfortunately for science fiction fans, it probably won’t be with the uneven — and commercially underperforming — “Self/Less.”
The notion that a dying Ben Kingsley would approach a company to transfer his consciousness into a younger, healthy Reynolds is a terrific idea, but director Tarsem Singh can’t really make the pieces fit together.
Once Kingsley leaves the screen and viewers are left to focus on Reynolds, the plot thickens, but neither romantic interest Natalie Martinez of “End of Watch” or vaguely nefarious villain Matthew Goode of “The Imitation Game” can keep viewers engaged enough to root for Reynolds’ success in the action portion of the film.
Genre-jumping from science fiction to action thriller to romance and back again seems to be too much for Singh and writers Alex and David Pastor, whose overall writing and direction feels bland, save for a scene or two.
Conceptually much better than the actual execution of the film, the shortcomings of “Self/Less” can’t possibly be laid at the feet of Reynolds, a talented actor with a definite skillset who just can’t find the right vehicle to break out with.
Reynolds can thrive in the sorts of roles Bradley Cooper perfected before his emergence in “Silver Linings Playbook,” and to a larger extent, “American Sniper.” The borderline cocky smugness that Reynolds can exude so well in comedic settings is what helped Cooper rise to fame with “The Hangover” movies. Odds are in Reynolds’ favor, however, with the early 2016 release of the rated R superhero film “Deadpool,” a Comic Con favorite that will allow Reynolds to snark his way into the hearts of moviegoers.
In the meantime, “Self/Less” ultimately is one of those films that viewers can either catch on a whim as a matinee or wait until the DVD/streaming release later this fall.