You know how sometimes you’re an old, cancer-ridden millionaire, and you don’t want to die, so you pay a cryptic Englishman a lot of money to transfer your consciousness to a new body? Did I mention that you are Sir Ben Kingsley doing a thick Long Island accent, the kind where “call” is a two-syllable word, and that the new body belongs to Ryan Reynolds? Sure. You know what I’m talking about.
That’s “Self/less,” an appealing but derivative tech thriller from director Tarsem Singh (“The Cell,” “Mirror Mirror”). The concept of putting someone’s mind in a different body is not new to cinema, but “Self/less” seems only vaguely aware of that, and the screenplay (by brothers David and Alex Pastor) is loaded with so much obvious telegraphing — a line here, a gesture there, clumsily hinting “THIS WILL BE IMPORTANT LATER!” — that it’s almost charming.
Upon “shedding” his old mortal coil and awakening in the young(-er) new one, our man, named Damian, finds himself having what the scientist (Matthew Goode) calls “occasional mild hallucinations.” Nothing to worry about, just take this pill every day for a few weeks. Where did your new body come from? Oh, we grew it in the lab, of course. No, it was never another living person! Ha ha, why would you even say that?
With enough momentum to stave off boredom even though we guess most of the twists, and with just enough humanity to keep us emotionally invested, this is a nicely made, supremely average movie: not bad enough to avoid, but not good enough to seek out on purpose.
C+ (1 hr., 55 min.; )