Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: Nick Bannister, a man who makes a living helping relive their memories and probing criminals’ memories for the cops, navigates the alluring world of the past until his life is changed by new client Mae. A simple job becomes an obsession after she disappears and he fights to learn the truth about her.
Review: In a funny bit of coincidence I watched this movie right after Jason Momoa’s Sweet Girl. Both stories start with narration by its lead star and both narrations talk about the past and how we perceive memories. Also if you’ve seen Strange Days (sadly most haven’t) this movie borrows HEAVILY from that one. And as a fan of Strange Days, I’m not sure how I feel about that. But let’s focus on Reminiscence instead for now.
This noir-esque tale is set against a backdrop of an earth where the polar ice caps have melted. The world (or in this case Miami) looks like Vienna, Italy with boats as taxis and people avoiding the daylight and the heat it brings by sticking to the night. Hugh Jackman (The Prestige, the one and only Wolverine) plays Nick, a man who uses tech called Reminiscence to see people’s memories. One day a woman named Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) walks into his place as she’s misplaced her keys and needs help finding it. From here on you can’t trust what you see as the line between memory and reality is blurred to bring this thriller to life.
Jackman feels like a mix of Guy Pearce in Memento and Max Payne in Max Payne the video game (and not that AWFUL Mark Wahlberg movie). He narrates this tale of how the past and our memory of it can haunt us or, as he says, we can haunt it. The film uses a beautiful blend of science fiction and noir to tell us how important it is to respect the past but not let it prevent you from living in the present or rob you of your future. Jackman is joined here by a well-fleshed out cast of characters played to perfection by Thandie Newton (Westworld) Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible) Cliff Curtis (True Lies, Fear the Walking Dead) and Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands), just to name a few. Large part or small, each of them deliver on their screen time and there’s just enough here for them not to feel one-dimensional.
The chemistry between Rebecca’s Mae and Jackman’s Nick is also strong enough to make you believe this man would go to hell and back to find her. Newton’s Watts is the loyal friend who has her own demons, Curtis’ villainous character Cyrus Boothe is the kind of unapologetic bad guy you’ll love to hate, and Daniel Wu takes what could’ve easily been a throwaway character, Saint Joe, and added just enough charisma to make his short scenes impactful. All this to say the cast are the strength of this story and without them Reminiscence could’ve easily been mediocre and forgettable.
The visuals and set designs are also quite astounding in the sense they look and feel quite real. This is a world that could actually exist especially if we don’t course-correct a lot of the environmental issues we currently have. And writer/director Lisa Joy deftly expresses this without making it feel like you’re being preached to. Think Blade Runner but not so far in the future we have androids running about, and you’ll have a pretty good picture of what to expect here, visually speaking.
Beautiful visuals and solid acting aside though and Reminiscence doesn’t pack quite enough of a punch to make it standout the way those above-mentioned films do. Remove the futuristic tech and the semi-apocalyptic visuals and all you’re really left with is a noir thriller about a woman, a man and the kind of secret conspiracy we’ve seen a hundred times before. I have to ask myself without the star power involved here, would I have found this movie interesting? I’m honestly not sure, but I will say this, if I had to compare or recommend it against similar movies such as the underrated Strange Days, I know without a doubt which one I would rate higher—the win goes to Strange Days.
So here’s where I’ve landed with Reminiscence. I think this is a well-shot movie with an interesting world that feels real and lived-in. I think the performances elevate material that at its core is quite mundane. And I think if Hugh Jackman wasn’t the lead it’s a movie that would’ve easily been overlooked by many. It’s decent enough as a whole but as the movie itself points out, once you start looking back at the details you’ll realise it may not be as good as you remembered.
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
And you can check out more new sci fi movie content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!