“Memory” stars Liam Neeson, Guy Pearce, Monica Bellucci, Taj Atwal, Ray Fearon, Harold Torres, and Ray Stevenson. Released on April 29, 2022, the film is about an expert assassin who struggles with severe memory loss.
The film is directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed films such as “Edge of Darkness”, “GoldenEye”, “Casino Royale”, and “The Foreigner”. It is based on the novel De Zaak Alzheimer by Jef Geeraerts and a remake of the Belgian film “The Alzheimer Case”. People just can’t get enough of Neeson’s action-packed antics, which is one of the things we’ll never forget for a long time. As usual, we’ve reached the calm before the storm this weekend, and that storm is the multiverse of madness. There aren’t any big movies that dare to open the week before Marvel takes over the month of May, so leave it to good ol’ Liam Neeson to fill that void. In addition to being Neeson’s second outing this year, the film is also the latest to be helmed by Martin Campbell, whose last project, “The Protege”, didn’t make much of an impression in my eyes. It’s far from terrible, but it isn’t something that packs a huge punch either. So now the filmmaker is hoping to give audiences something to remember because we don’t want another “Green Lantern” incident on his hands. With that said, let’s see if this latest thriller offers enough memorable moments to satisfy us before the summer movie season.
The story follows Alex Lewis (Neeson), a skilled assassin working for a dangerous criminal organization. While his expert skills are nothing but impressive, Alex has one weakness that affects his duties: he has memory loss. When he refuses to kill a young teen due to his code to not murder kids, the organization immediately puts a target on Alex’s head, forcing him to go on the run. Additionally, he’s hunted down by the FBI, led by Vincent Serra (Pearce), and Mexican intelligence. During his quest for vengeance, Alex is constantly affected by his faltering memory, making him question his every move and whom he can trust.
Do you guys remember Dory, a famous character from “Finding Nemo” who also suffers from memory loss? Imagine her being a ruthless killer instead of a fish, and behold, you get “Memory”, an action-packed thriller that sees the central character taking out bad people and trying to remember his hotel room number. Of course, killing people is what Neeson did in every thriller he’s been in for years, and this film shows that things haven’t changed, for better or worse. The only exciting part of this formula is that Neeson’s character Alex has advanced Alzheimer’s, which gradually affects his memory as the film progresses. So this seemed like a perfect opportunity to provide intriguing twists and stakes for the character and the scenario. But, of course, it is a Liam Neeson thriller I’m dealing with, so I shouldn’t expect too much out of its plot, especially after what happened with the actor’s previous film “Blacklight”. Unfortunately, even with my expectations set on neutral, “Memory” still managed to leave a disappointing impression on me.
The film’s story focuses on two characters. One of them is Alex, who’s on a quest to murder every member of the human trafficking syndicate while dealing with his faltering memory. The other is Vincent Serra, who’s tasked to hunt down the person responsible for the murders. Both characters had riveting arcs that provided suitable thrills and enjoyability in their manhunts. But, of course, it’s easy to admit that the plot is an uninspired carbon copy of much better thrillers, and its storytelling is understandably mundane. The movie also came close to overstaying its welcome by a couple of minutes, especially when considering its pacing. Nonetheless, I enjoyed some moments in the film’s first two acts, more so than “Blacklight”.
However, the movie’s potential to be somewhat average faded away as quickly as Alex’s memory when the final act comes into play. It went in a different direction that ultimately betrays the elements set up in the two acts, resulting in a disappointingly dull mess that only made its formula worse than before. Even its twists near the end weren’t enough to regain some excitement in its stale narrative. I don’t mind certain movies going in different directions in their climaxes as long as they have something that’s worth my time. Sadly, “Memory” does not have that. There’s also a slight chance that the third act may disappoint specific Neeson fans, depending on their expectations. Without giving anything away, I was pretty saddened when that one twist happened.
Now, that’s not to say that Martin Campbell is to blame, as he’s only hired to bring this story to life with his vision. Campbell was an acceptable choice in providing the movie’s presentation regarding the style and action scenes. While I still think his direction in “Casino Royale” and “The Foreigner” was better, Campbell offers enough intensity in “Memory” to keep me engaged until he took a nosedive in the third act. I would also not blame the cast, mainly Liam Neeson. They all did the best they could to keep the movie going, even though their performances were anything but spectacular. Neeson delivers the usual standards as he did in his other films regarding his role as Alex. It’s nothing too special, but I’m sure it’ll satisfy plenty of the actor’s fans regardless. Guy Pearce also turned in a respectable performance as Vincent, which helps make the character’s arc as interesting as Alex’s. The only thing I’m blaming for the film is its screenplay by Dario Scardapane. It had some exciting things that I hoped would pay off in the end, but then it quickly wasted them with an underwhelming and head-scratching finale that felt more frustrating than shocking.
Overall, “Memory” may have some tolerable moments in its presentation, but they’re not enough to make this lackluster thriller worth remembering. Despite the efforts made by the cast and director, the film squandered its intriguing premise in favor of a run-of-the-mill and soulless Neeson vehicle that serves as another low point for the actor and filmmaker Martin Campbell. With its formulaic plot, weak screenplay, runtime, and a frustratingly dull finale, the movie is nothing but a faded memory. I did find it a tad better than “Blacklight”, but that’s not saying much. If you like Neeson as an action star, you might find some enjoyment in this one, even though you might forget about it in a day or two. Otherwise, you’re better off saving your money for the big summer blockbusters, including the new Doctor Strange movie.