In 2001, Guy Pearce starred in Christopher Nolan’s “Memento,” a film about a man tracking his wife’s killer while suffering from memory loss, using notes and tattoos on his body to remember clues in their search. In 2022, he stars in a film in which a hitman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease uses similar methods in order to keep track of details. But that’s where the comparisons between “Memento” and Martin Campbell’s “Memory” end. The first was a groundbreaking neo-noir classic; the latter is best to forget about as soon as possible.
“Memory” is another entry in Liam Neeson’s Gets Revenge subgenre, a sprawling body of work that sprang from the surprise success of 2008’s action thriller “Taken.” You know the drill: a child or other vulnerable person is threatened, their character has a very particular skill set, rescue and/or revenge ensues. That’s at least one of the storylines of “Memory,” a tangled mess of intertwining storylines and too many two-dimensional characters.
“Memory” is a remake of a 2003 Belgian crime thriller, “De zaak Alzheimer”, based on the book by Jef Geeraerts. Dario Scardapane adapted the screenplay of “Memory”, which is quite faithful to the original. Neeson plays Alex Lewis, the aforementioned assassin with Alzheimer’s, who exits the game after one last gig. When he discovers that one of his intended victims is a young teenage girl, sex-trafficked by her father, who was accidentally killed in an FBI raid, Alex doesn’t just back down, he decides to s blame everyone who hired him to kill the girl in the first place.
Simultaneously, the film follows FBI agent Vincent Serra (Pearce) who accidentally killed the trafficked girl’s father, and now feels guilty for leaving her in a vulnerable position, stuck in a detention center. detention, about to be deported to Mexico. But Vincent has a lot more on his plate, as Alex the Assassin begins piling bodies around El Paso as he moves up the sex-trafficking food chain, which ends at the top of a real estate company. company from Texas, which is run by (checks notes) Monica Bellucci?! She plays a tycoon named Davana Sealman, who hired Alex through a middleman to cover up evidence of her terrible son’s wrongdoings with the sex-trafficked minor.
“Memory” has a decent director in Campbell and a great cast (yes, it’s also Ray Stevenson as a corrupt cop), but a crippling case of a bad script that fails to make us care about the one of those characters at all. The plot zigzags between the convoluted quest of Alex, Vincent and his ragtag team of FBI investigators, and this elite real estate trafficking ring, but doesn’t take the time to tell us who these people are, what they want or why they I do all this.
The original Belgian film cast high government officials as the bad guys, but wealthy businessmen as powerful and depraved sexual predators are much more American, and the mother/son conspiracy is reminiscent of the terrible duo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. . Not that “Memory” succeeds in making a particularly incisive social commentary like this. The ugly digital cinematography and flat script make it feel more like a really long episode of “Law & Order: SVU,” but you’d be more entertained watching this lengthy TV walkthrough than this movie, which isn’t worth watching. worth remembering in the least.
1 1/2 out of 4 stars
Rated R for violence, some gory imagery, and language throughout.
In English and Spanish with English subtitles
Where to watch: In theaters Friday, April 29