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Self/less

‘Self/less’ explores the desire to live forever. This isn’t anything new as wanting eternal life has been a motivation for many fictional characters. Maintaining beauty is another added element with humanity’s ego in defying death and ageing seen everywhere. ‘Self/less’ mirrors its two-pronged title throughout the twist-laden tale. Whether those grasping at extended longevity are doing it for themselves or others is examined in a fairly interesting sci-fi thriller.

Dying of cancer, billionaire Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) will do anything to continue living. Coming across a process called ‘shredding’, as perfected by the shadowy Doctor Albright (Matthew Goode), Hale thinks he’s found the cure. The procedure sees him putting his mind into a younger body. Waking up as literally a new person, Hale is given the new identity as Damian (Ryan Reynolds). Sent to live a new life, Damian discovers things aren’t as they seem. With mysterious images plaguing his thoughts, he sets out to uncover the truth despite increasingly being in danger.

‘Self/less’ is a reasonably involving thriller without being great. The idea of an old person in a young body trying to adapt to a new life is interesting. The effects of their new existence and of those around them is intriguing. Unfortunately these elements aren’t used as well as could be. Blame can go to the unfocussed script as well as Tarsem Singh’s lacklustre direction. While showing talent, Singh takes the least captivating path in conveying the story.

It’s no fault of the actors who do a good job. Reynolds in particular gives a strong performance as someone trapped in a situation of their own making. It’s easy following his character as he discovers new, unwanted revelations. The infrequent action scenes enliven proceedings which all too often feel drawn out. Occasionally ‘Self/less’ comes to a virtual standstill, robbing it of making it more than an average movie.

If one could live forever then one can forgive the hours used viewing films like ‘Self/less’. By no means terrible, the material needed better handling. It’s a fine enough sci-fi film although the plodding narrative may make one ponder where the time is going watching it.

Rating out of 10 5

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX

Mortal Kombat

‘Mortal Kombat’ first appeared in 1992 as an action-packed console game. Since then, it has become a worldwide phenomenon covering all sorts of media. Books, comics and other merchandise have seen it rake in big bucks. ‘Mortal Kombat’ isn’t its first foray into film. The 1995 and 1997 movies have their admirers with their spectacular martial arts fighting scenes on full display. Don’t expect anything subtle with ‘Mortal Kombat’ as its multitude of fist fights mask its wafer-thin script.

Washed up martial artist Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is on the run. Hunted by deadly assassin, Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Cole is unaware of his hidden powers. Learning he is a defender of Earthworld, he has to protect this realm against Outworld’s evil forces. Cole enlists a group of fighters, including Sonya (Jessica McNamee) and Kano (Josh Lawson). Pitting their might against Outworld’s powerful combatants, Cole’s team must save their world from shadowy domination.

‘Mortal Kombat’ is Simon McQuoid’s directorial debut. In terms of story-telling, it barely taxes his skills. As a choreographer of high-octane action, ‘Mortal Kombat’ benefits from his visceral flair. It needs plenty of it as the rest of the film is a bust. From one-dimensional characters to the pedestrian plotting, ‘Mortal Kombat’ has little else going for it. One doesn’t expect a masterpiece with this type of flick, but a modicum of effort in crafting an engaging tale would have been welcome.

If you want to see good acting, ‘Mortal Kombat’ barely has that. Most of the performances are woeful. The cast aren’t there for their thespian skills but to show off their muscled bodies and fighting prowess. They deliver on that score as does the endless combat sequences which are very faithful to the game. The set design and cinematography successfully bring out ‘Mortal Kombat’s’ comic-book flavour, making for a pleasing visual feast.

‘Mortal Kombat’s’ brief run-time reflects the script’s threadbare nature. As mindless entertainment ‘Mortal Kombat’ is reasonable without being amazing. Logic and pure drama aren’t what it needs, although it misses a sense of ridiculous fun. Given the game’s ongoing success, more movies will likely follow despite the low-grade hijinks it delivers.

Rating out of 10: 4

CURRENTLY SCREENING IN CINEMAS