THE ART OF MEMORY: REMINISCENCE
Start with an amalgam of movie genres: dystopian, science fiction, mystery, film noir and crime thriller. Throw in a craggy, still handsome Hugh Jackman as Nick, whose Naval tour of duty in Iraq and experience in a global conflict (as a draftee) contributes to the character's rough demeanor. Then, add a sultry, femme fatale, Rebecca Ferguson as Mae (the two actors continue their electric chemistry first seen in The Greatest Showman) who never stops surprising. Add a rock solid Thandiwe Newton (Watts, also a war veteran), plus as the henchman, Boothe, Cliff Curtis gives dimension to an often-stereotyped role. And that's just the beginning of this diverting, sometimes moving concoction.
Their characters, along with what remains of the population, have seen the inundation, decimation of coastal communities; a spike in global temperatures that forces survivors to sleep during the day and work at night, and the scars of a global conflict leaving behind the impoverished, except for the very wealthy that can afford to maintain a comfortable life. No wonder that many search for ways to forget (e.g., newly created psychedelic, highly addictive drugs) or to recall happier days.
What separates Reminiscence (2021) from the myriad of dream/memory-based films made during the previous decade involves the exquisite dialogue, "But memories, even good ones, have a voracious appetite. If you're not careful, they consume you." (Nick Bannister)
Words beckon our ears. From the onset, we hear a mesmerist attempting to put the audience under his spell. Jackman plays the seducer. His soft-spoken voice lulls his subjects--those who wish to remember their past--delving into their minds using a submersion tank; advanced technology. He and his assistant, Watts (Newton) record their subject's reminiscences, with the participant's approval.
Enter Mae (Ferguson), who casts her own spell on Nick. Their short-lived romance, though, takes a nasty turn. Action junkies will appreciate the next phase of the story. Words, nevertheless, don't become subsumed by the fast-moving narrative. The suspense doesn't drop once the initial opening transitions to the twisty, punchy action.
Writer/Director Lisa Joy's (Westworld) eye for detail intertwines the narrative. Imaginative fight scenes juxtaposed with striking day/night photography balance the occasional clunky plot: touching the surface but in need of further exploration of the depths.
Jackman has seen his share of action adventures--he holds his own against other colleagues in the business. He's in almost every scene in this movie. Fortunate, that he has the chops, energy to carry the film. Lucky too that he has accomplished co-stars.
Reminiscence forecasts a dire future for humanity yet gives glimmers of hope for a reimagined tomorrow. After all, the movie is fiction.
Rated PG-13. The usual language, rough fight scenes, some gun violence, drug use; as well as hints of an Oedipal mother/son relationship. Not a movie for those with aversions to hypodermic needles.
Now playing at a theater near you. Locals: Entertainment Cinemas and Regal Cinemas.
Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com
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