Review – Self Reliance

Posted in Comedy, Film Reviews, Film Reviews 2024, Genre by - January 17, 2024
Review – Self Reliance

Self Reliance (2023)
R  ‧ Comedy ‧ 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Written by Jake Johnson
Directed by Jake Johnson


 Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Morales, Mary Holland, Emily Hampshire, and Christopher Lloyd.


(In their own words). In Los Angeles, a disillusioned man receives an invitation to win $1 million by taking part in a reality television game on the dark web. For 30 days, he must outwit hunters attempting to kill him. He realizes there’s a loophole to the game – the hunters can only attack him when he’s alone – so he attempts to convince friends, family and total strangers that the game is real, and that they must stay with him 24/7


The BEST things about the film

  1. Original and Engaging Premise: The concept of “Self Reliance” is unique and intriguing. A man participating in a deadly reality TV game on the dark web where he must outwit hunters for 30 days is thrilling and comedic. The loophole that hunters can only attack when he’s alone adds an exciting dynamic to the plot.
  2. Excellent Writing and Acting: Jake Johnson’s writing is sharp and witty and keeps the audience engaged. The humor is well-timed, and the dialogues are clever. The performances by the cast, notably Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick, stand out. Which is good since they are the leads. Their chemistry and comedic timing bring the characters to life.
  3. Impressive Directorial Debut by Jake Johnson: For his first feature film as a director, Jake Johnson shows remarkable skill. He successfully balances comedy with suspense, keeping the audience invested in the story. His direction enhances the film’s pacing and tone, making “Self Reliance” a noteworthy debut.


The WORST things about the film

  1. Unsatisfying and Abrupt Ending: The film’s conclusion is a significant letdown. After building an engaging storyline, the ending feels rushed and leaves many questions unanswered. It lacks the closure that the audience expects, especially regarding the main characters’ fate and relationships.
  2. Lack of Closure in the Romantic Subplot: The romantic angle between Jake Johnson’s and Anna Kendrick’s characters is developed throughout the film, but the resolution is either ignored or insufficiently addressed. This lack of closure in the romantic subplot is disappointing and undermines the emotional investment made by the audience.
  3. Limited Exploration of the Dark Web Setting: The dark web is a crucial element of the story and the film doesn’t really delve deeply into it. More world-building and exploration of the dark web could have added depth and intrigue to the film, giving it a more rounded and comprehensive narrative.


For 95% of its duration, “Self Reliance” had me absolutely captivated. It’s hilarious and original and boasts excellent writing and acting. Jake Johnson, in his first feature film directorial role, really impresses. The premise is unique and engaging, making me laugh and keeping me hooked for most of the film.

However, it’s the last 5 minutes that utterly frustrated me. The film sets up a potential romantic comedy angle between Jake Johnson’s and Anna Kendrick’s characters, but the ending doesn’t deliver. It feels like the film abandons its build-up, leaving us with an unsatisfying resolution that left me going to bed angry. As much as I defend ambiguous endings, this one felt more like a lack of closure than a thought-provoking conclusion.

The film touches on important themes like loneliness and the need for a supportive circle of people in our lives. It’s a message that resonates, especially in today’s world, where connections are more important than ever. “Self Reliance” is worth watching for its originality and the first hour and 25 minutes of solid entertainment.


The film highlights the importance of having a supportive circle of people in our lives and speaks to the theme of loneliness, emphasizing that everyone needs someone.


Yes, but I don’t think I would because I’m so mad at the ending. 


“Self Reliance” is a wildly original and engaging comedy that hooked me for almost its entire run. Jake Johnson delivers both in front of and behind the camera, with witty writing and a solid directorial debut, complemented by fantastic performances from Anna Kendrick and the rest of the ensemble. The film’s concept – surviving a deadly game on the dark web – is cleverly executed with humor and suspense. However, the last few minutes left me frustrated, failing to provide a satisfying end to an otherwise excellent film. Despite its abrupt conclusion, “Self Reliance” is a comedy worth watching for its fresh take and laughs, but be prepared for a potential letdown as the credits roll.


My 3L system gives me the choice to Love It, Like It, or Lose It. 

I give it a ‘Like It’ – a film that captivates for the most part but doesn’t quite stick the landing. It’s a 90% “like it”and 10% “lose it” for me. 



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When he’s not reviewing films or interviewing people for the Black & A Half podcast, Silas Lindenstein can be found in the greater metro Seattle, WA working as a real estate agent helping people buy and sell homes, or performing stand up comedy to fellow nerds. He has a wife and three children and desperately wants to learn to make the perfect homemade pizza.

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