Hugh Jackman and the visuals are memorable, while the story is forgettable.
I was dazzled by the art direction of “Reminiscence,” because it shows us a dystopian future when a war has happened and the streets of Miami are flooded. There are docks added to buildings and a damn that blocks the lower areas, although the roads are still watery. They mostly drive motorboats, while some clear roads have cars. Even the trains make splashes. And like the rich people on the Titanic, barons are able to survive on higher grounds with dams, blocking themselves from the wet and poor.
This is a movie that’s inspired by the likes of “Blade Runner” and “Inception,” but lacks the story it deserves. It’s too convoluted with criminals, political affairs, and memories for the regular mind to stay focused on.
It’s the written and directorial film debut of Lisa Joy, who also created “Westworld” and is married to Jonathan Nolan, the brother of Christopher Nolan. Only Jonathan produces it, and I wish Christopher was involved so he can show his sister-in-law how an ingenuous Sci-Fi movie is supposed to be. She’s still a student, not a CN graduate.
In “Reminiscence, there’s the set-up of people accessing their memories, kudos to Hugh Jackman as PI of the mind and Navy vet Nick Bannister and Thandiwe Newton as his assistant Watts. They sit in tanks with head gear, and they relive memories from their lives. Sometimes for pleasure, other times to look for things, and mostly to be happy during sad times. But in the main protagonist’s case, it can also be used as a mystery tale.
In comes Rebecca Ferguson as the singer and bartender Mae, who misplaces her keys, and while she’s trying to access their whereabouts, Nick starts to have a thing for her in “Casablanca” sort-of way. They begin to connect, but for some reason, she disappears, leaving him to relive his romantic memories with her for months. Watts tells him to move on, but he’s too convinced “people don’t just vanish.” And as he begins searching for her memories, he begins to suspect that maybe she’s not who she said she was. Another movie this week with that subject matter after Rebecca Hall had to figure out who her deceased husband was in “The Night House.”
The bad guys in “Reminiscence” include the drug lord Saint Joe (Daniel Wu), who has the drug called “Baca” and loves his tank of eels, and the dirty cop Cyrus Booth (Cliff Curtis), whom Mae has been involved with. They have potential, but they’re so thinly written that you can’t even see where they’re coming from or where they’re going. It’s all routine.
Jackman gives the best performance in the movie with his American Wolverine accent and persistence about his case. He has an edge and the potential to reunite with Nolan after “The Prestige.” But the supporting actors from Ferguson to Newton juts flounder about, and only rely on Jackman to pull the weight around for them. It’s a shame I have to admire the leading man more than the supporting actors.
I love anything with water, so I was fascinated by the flooded sets in the cities and abandoned warehouses. Those scenes are beautifully photographed by cinematographer Paul Cameron and filmed by Joy, if only she could provide an original story to go with them. What starts off as a promising “Inception” concept ends up being a convoluted mess with not much to grasp. I wouldn’t mind if movie-goers saw “Reminiscence” because of Jackman and the images, but I think they have better movies of its kind to see. Maybe not in theaters, but also on DVD or Blu-Ray or online or if they still have VHS players. Some do, and it’s quite nostalgic.
In Theaters and Streaming on HBO Max