Watching Guy Pearce act opposite Liam Neeson in a Taken-inspired version of Memento was torturous!
A good director can save a bad script but when both the script and the director are clueless, you get Liam Neeson’s Memory. It’s such an unmemorable film that by the time it ends, no one remembers anything about it. Not even the great Guy Pearce and the beautiful Monica Bellucci are able to save this sinking ship that could have been salvaged had the makers used some common sense instead of going with the flow.
The main culprit behind this forgettable flick is the director Martin Campbell who seems to have made it in order to fulfill some fancy wish of directing Liam Neeson, otherwise, he could have retired after directing two different actors as James Bond. Since he wanted to keep working, the audience is the one who suffers the most at the end of 114 minutes. They might have gone to watch Liam Neeson in action but come across as an old guy who forgets everything except firing a gun.
Based on Jef Geeraerts’ novel ‘De Zaak Alzheimer’, ‘Memory’ is a remake of the novel’s previous adaptation, ‘The Alzheimer Case’, a Belgian flick. However, cine-goers in this part of the world would recall many Amitabh Bachchan movies where he was wrongfully targeted for a crime he didn’t commit and had to crack the case himself, in order to clear his name.
Had that been the film’s synopsis, it would have done well but sadly, Martin Campbell wanted to experiment just like he did with Green Lantern and the audience who still haven’t forgotten him for that fiasco, behaved the same way. It may come up like a cat and mouse chase with the FBI looking for the mysterious killer who seems to do their job for them, but when you add the Memento angle, it loses its touch.
Yes, in the presence of the actor who played the Memento character – Guy Pearce – we have an aged Alex Lewis (Liam Neeson) who is a contract killer – with a weak memory. Call it Alzheimer’s, call it forgetfulness, when he does realize that he might be losing it, he tries to quit but his bosses want him on ‘one last job’. When he finds out that the target is a kid, he refuses to go through and someone else finishes the job. And that made Alex Lewis very angry, and he made it his mission to take down those responsible – despite his weak memory.
He also plays mind games with FBI agent Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce) who was trying to protect that girl and is basically after the same bad guys. But when Alex starts murdering the very people responsible for the kid’s murder and makes Vincent aware of his identity, all hell breaks loose. While the law enforcement officers want to save the person who ordered the contract (Monica Bellucci), Vincent – with his weak memory – wants to play Taken despite having detective Linda Amistead (Taj Atwal) and detective Harold Torres (Hugo Marquez) helping Vincent.
Is Alex able to avenge the girl’s murder or is he stopped before he could help the FBI build a case against those responsible, that’s a question for another day. What I can tell you is that the conclusion is only acceptable for those who are die-hard Liam Neeson fans, because only they would have stayed back till the climax. Others would have ‘forgetfully’ left the theatre, never to return because whatever was happening on the screen was predictable and not something they had not seen before.
Casting Guy Pearce as the FBI agent and then using him to tail Liam Neeson was a huge mistake since Guy Pearce was the guy who actually pulled off that ‘forgetful’ thingy when he was given the chance. Liam Neeson continues to disappoint with his second film of the year and if the 70-year-old improves his role selection, he would end up becoming a joke like many of his contemporaries. Here the only thing that makes him different from Taken is the fact that he doesn’t have a daughter; regrets the kind of work he does for a living and is more confused than focused on the job.
Everything from the screenplay to the action sequences seems to have been written, executed, and acted by people with short-term memory as well. The Alzheimer-angle is inserted only when the writer wants it otherwise it could have been mistaken for Taken 4. When Liam Neeson was firing the gun, he was fine but when he was in the hospital, it took him hours to realize where he had hidden something that was important to the case. Don’t laugh but it reminds me of that Johnny Lever movie where he forgot where he hid the loot and was laughed upon, by all
This film also doesn’t give importance to social evils like the illegal immigration, political corruption and the illicit tapestry of child sex rings that are treated as ‘it happens’ instead of ‘it shouldn’t happen’. Showing the FBI powerless also doesn’t go down well with the audience, especially when they are unable to apprehend a man who was calling them from outside their office! Even the final ten minutes aren’t jaw-dropping but head-scratching, making the film appear abrupt, shallow, and weak.
The director who was behind successful flicks like Goldeneye (1995), The Mask of Zorro (1998), The Legend of Zorro (2005), and Casino Royale (2006), could have used all his experience and rescued a bad film from going down. He could have given more screen time to Guy Pearce and Liam Neeson, but he didn’t for unknown reasons. A project that could have pitted two extremely talented actors from the 90s together ends up as a Liam Neeson vehicle that ‘could have been a contender’.