I always laugh when I hear LaDona and Ted Garcia go at it on the air about music. LaDona has great taste in music and we like the same bands. Yet, I do have a soft spot for “yacht rock” which she gives Ted crap for liking. I’m sure he and I were a few of the only people that heard the title of this movie -- Reminiscence -- and thought about the Little River Band.
The trailers for this looked amazing, and I’m a fan of Hugh Jackman. Perhaps not as big a fan as my wife, who every few days, for no reason whatsoever, will just blurt out, “I really like Hugh Jackman.”
This is one of those cases where the commercial is better than the movie. Writer/director Lisa Joy (co-creator of Westworld) is taking her first stab at movies, and she’s giving us elements we’ve seen already, and better, in Blade Runner, Minority Report, Inception, and Strange Days.
Side note: I was at a party at James Cameron’s house once, and found out that, like me, his favorite band is The Doors. That’s why he named the movie Strange Days. He told me he also wanted to call Point Break “Riders on the Storm” but he couldn’t get the rights to do that.
Anyway, this story takes place in a dystopian future around 2049, after a major war (which we’re not given many details about), and water levels rising because of global warming (oy). This gives us set pieces that are rather interesting, as we watch Jackman walking around Miami with two feet of water everywhere. People also use boat taxis to get to various places.
Where the problem lies is with Jackman’s narration. It’s like he’s a film noir detective, and it’s rather silly dialogue and his voice isn’t especially suited for it, either.
He’s Nick Bannister, a war veteran who used a technology that involved drugging prisoners and submerging them in water, and seeing their memories and extracting the truth. Instead of waterboarding, it is more like those visions in Minority Report.
Bannister now does this for the DA in criminal cases, as well as for folks who just want to come in and remember their loved ones. His partner is played by Thandie Newton, and she’s amazing in it. The problem with her character though, is she’s an alcoholic. And I don’t buy that she could do this elaborate job as well as she does, when she’s drinking non-stop. Don’t get me wrong, I understand functioning alcoholics. My stepdad was. He was able to come home at 3 a.m. from a night of drinking, and wake up three hours later to walk five miles delivering mail!
These two had such good chemistry, I was rooting for them to become a couple.
Yet that’s squashed when Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) struts in, wanting to be submerged so she can remember where she left her car keys. Uh, okay. Now at that point, I leaned into my wife and told her exactly what would happen in the rest of the movie (and I’m terrible at guessing these things). I was exactly right.
He sees her singing a torch song and instantly falls in love. Since she left her earrings at the submerging tank (which is odd, because...if you got completely naked and had to take off all jewelry to do this...wouldn’t the staff be good about making sure you got everything before you left?)...he goes to the lounge where she sings and they go back to her place to make whoopie (I wanted to use a word that would have been used back when Bogart was on screen).
Afterwards, they’re lounging around before sunset, and they give the audience a little more exposition dialogue about how the world is now, with everyone sleeping during the day and working at night, because it’s too hot to do anything else.
One day Mae disappears. Nick is heartbroken, and becomes addicted to submerging himself in the tank to enjoy his memories of her. We’re told this is dangerous as it could imprint your brain and cause it to go wonky. And that’s a fun premise to consider.
While working a criminal case, Nick sees Mae in the background of the memory of a drug dealer they’re interrogating. This spurs him to investigate Mae's secret life.
When the movie goes down this path, it really has way too much going on. There was one point where I was getting confused about who certain bad guys were.
One of the side stories involves a business tycoon, who keeps buying land cheap. There’s a dirty cop who works with a drug lord. There’s a young boy that disappears, and Mae may have played a part in his disappearance. There’s also an Asian dude (Daniel Wu) who doesn’t like to button his shirt, and is fond of eels.
There were so many various names thrown at me, that I was thinking I needed a submerging tank to try and remember who was who (and the large soda I bought at the concession stand, was a big enough size that my whole head could have submerged in it, but that’s another complaint for another time).
There were a few fun fight scenes. One of them involving a piano, reminded me of a fight scene I loved as a kid in 1978 with Burgess Meredith in Foul Play (Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase).
Lisa Joy obviously has talent, but in her debut feature, she was swinging for the fences and...while not striking out, it was merely a single. I’ll be looking forward to her next movie. Every one of my friends...will be looking forward to season four of Westworld.
This gets 2 stars out of 5.