“Reminiscence” stars Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, and Daniel Wu. Released on August 20, 2021, the film is about a scientist who can relive people’s memories.
The film featured the directorial debut of Lisa Joy, who is known for co-creating the HBO series “Westworld”. We all look back at our own memories from time to time, but what if there’s a way for us to explore someone else’s? That would’ve been an invasion of privacy, sure, but it can help us solve essential cases if used properly. Imagine the possibilities. Luckily for us, Hugh Jackman has that type of ability. This latest thriller sees the Wolverine actor team up with first-time director Lisa Joy for a strange concept that combines “Inception” with “Blade Runner”. The reason why my review for this was a bit late was that I was pretty hesitant on whether to watch it or not. On the one hand, it’s got Hugh Jackman and plenty of exciting ideas in its brain. On the other hand, its poor reviews convinced me that it’s going to be nothing but a faded memory. In the end, I decided to go for it because why not? With that said, let’s see if this sci-fi thriller is as forgetful as people said it was.
The story takes place in the near future, where the city of Miami is affected by a climate change that caused the seas to rise and flood the streets. It also caused people to live at night due to its extreme daytime temperatures. It centers on two scientists, Nicolas “Nick” Bannister (Jackman) and Emily “Watts” Sanders (Newton). They operate a business that allows their clients to revisit their memories thanks to their sensory deprivation tank. While helping their latest client, Mae (Ferguson), Nick starts to grow attached to her. When Mae suddenly disappears, Nick must delve deep into people’s memories to search for her. It’s easy to admit that the film has got many intriguing ideas inside its subconscious. It’s a neo-noir mystery thriller where the only clues are in people’s minds, and it takes place during the early stages of “Waterworld”. Sadly, Kevin Costner is nowhere to be seen in the film. Sorry, “Waterworld” fans. With the addition of its themes involving memories and obsession, this latest piece of sci-fi filmmaking may have an opportunity to become an unexpected hit not just for Hugh Jackman but also for Lisa Joy as a director. Unfortunately, it wound up being nothing but a distant memory. The film attempted to provide a balance that caters to both science fiction fans and neo-noir lovers alike, similar to what “Blade Runner” and its sequel did. While it isn’t without a few good moments, Lisa Joy couldn’t quite nail that balance regarding its story. The plot was serviceable enough to deliver an ambitious yet sometimes convoluted mystery. Still, its genre cliches and mediocre screenplay made it far less remarkable than a stroll down memory lane. Nothing in its originality made it stand out compared to the other films that inspired it. As for what I did happen to like, I would give Joy some credit for directing some well-shot action scenes, especially the fight between Nick and Cyrus Boothe (played by Cliff Curtis). The camera work and editing were tolerable enough to showcase the violence more precisely without hurting its audience’s eyeballs and heads. Even though they didn’t reach the same level of intensity as they were going for, Lisa Joy understood what we all want from an action scene: to see what’s going on. The cast themselves did what they could to prevent it from being highly forgettable, and the results were pretty decent. Hugh Jackman was suitably eye-catching due to his performance as Nick. The actor worked well in manifesting his character’s internal struggles during his quest to rescue the woman he loves. Rebecca Ferguson and Thandiwe Newton were also good in their roles as Mae and Watts, respectively. I also happened to like the film’s production design. Sure, it took a back seat and allowed the mystery aspect to take the wheel, but it captured the feeling of living in a modern future without making things too far-fetched. Plus, it’s “Waterworld” before “Waterworld”,…sort of.
Overall, “Reminiscence” is gorgeous and interesting regarding its presentation and story, but everything else fell flat in providing anything that's worth remembering. The cast was undeniably solid, the production design was decent, and the mystery aspect was watchable. Aside from those things, the film is nothing more than an uninspired imitation that evokes the memories of better films from the same genre. It’s an okay watch if you’re into neo-noir mysteries, but you’ll probably forget about it in about a day or two.