An extremely wealthy elderly man dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness to the body of a healthy young man but everything may not be as good as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origins and the secret organization that will kill to keep its secrets.
It told the story of an older banker who solicits the help of a shadowy organization that will fake his death and reconstruct him with a brand-new identity, as well as a new face and body. The movie was a box-office flop, but has developed a cult following over the years and clearly had an influence on the makers of Self/less, director Tarsem Singh and screenwriters Alex Pastor and David Pastor. The new film has more of a traditional thriller angle than the Frankenheimer film, so might have a better commercial shot, though its prospects still seem iffy.
Of course, Seconds wasn’t a brand-new idea even in 1966; it was one of many variations on the Frankenstein myth, and we’ve seen other stories about people going to great lengths to cheat death and seek a second chance. But the similarities between this new film and Frankenheimer’s movie are too striking to ignore. The failings of Self/less reveal a good deal about what has gone wrong with American movies over the last 50 years.