Main cast: Hugh Jackman (Nicolas Bannister), Rebecca Ferguson (Mae), Thandiwe Newton (Emily “Watts” Sanders), Cliff Curtis (Cyrus Boothe), Marina de Tavira (Tamara Sylvan), Daniel Wu (Saint Joe), Mojean Aria (Sebastian Sylvan), Brett Cullen (Walter Sylvan), Natalie Martinez (Avery Castillo), and Angela Sarafyan (Elsa Carine)
Director: Lisa Joy
In the future, the world is ravaged by—what else?—crap effects of climate change. The seas rise up, the sun becomes more intense than ever during the day, and Miami is now a half-sunken city. Not that this doesn’t seem like much of a poor deal, as everyone in this movie lives in lovely apartments that look like they are straight out of some fancy art decor illustration, and even the poorest people look like they have just stepped out of a trendy hip fashion campaign. Everyone is hot and slim, which I suppose make sense in a way as fat and sick people are likely the first to die as they won’t be able to outrun stuff like zombies and crap, I imagine, and if you’re Hugh Jackman, those muscles stay hot and supple even when his character is supposed to have spent years wasting away in a watery tank with no apparent source of nutrition. Maybe they just inject those muscle-growth hormones and stuff into him every other day?
Okay, Reminiscence. Much has been made about this is the directorial debut of Christopher Nolan’s sister-in-law, and she also wrote the whole thing. Well. let’s see what she has come up with, then.
Nick Bannister plays the Sam Spade role, although he doesn’t do the old-school PI stuff. Rather, he and his business partner Watt run an agency that allows people to step into some fancy machine in order to relive their cherished memories. Naturally, this device also allows the law enforcers to forcefully extract evidence from the memories of their suspects and what not. These two functions intersect when Nick, still broken over his sweetheart Mae vanishing without a trace ages ago, discovers while scanning the memories of a DA’s suspect that Mae was the mistress of a crime boss, addicted to a hardcore kind of drug called Baca, prior to meeting Nick. Oh dear, maybe Mae isn’t the woman he has fallen in love with? Against Watt’s advice, Nick begins to run his own investigation, to find out why Mae bailed on him without a trace.
It’s a good thing that the cast is all so pretty and easy on the eyes, because the story is actually a hot mess. It relies on coincidental discoveries, often revealed at convenient moments, and even then, the whole melodrama on Nick’s part hinges on this supposedly grand love between him and Mae that take place mostly off-screen. As a result, when Nick is all red-eyed and sobbing like he has nothing left to live for now that his boo has bailed, I can only shrug and say, well, I may care if I am led to believe that this is some kind of grand love. I don’t see it. All I see on screen is a hot guy meeting a hot girl and they shack up after a few dates, and then she’s gone. Is this the love of a lifetime? Beats me, as it’s up to the movie to convince me that it is, and it doesn’t even try to do that.
Also, this movie abruptly introduces some rant about social inequality late in the movie, when up to that point, I’m supposed to care more about Nick finding Mae. That one feels like some clumsy concession to people in social media, like a “Don’t write hit pieces on us because both leads are straight white people, please!” token of peace to those imbeciles. Although, if this had been a movie about those issues, I think it may just turn out to be more interesting. Nick chasing after a hot lady because he’d been living with her for a few months… please, go write a sad letter to Dear Abby or something.
At any rate, Reminiscence, by nature of its theme of haunted memories and searching for lost truths, will draw comparisons to other “intellectual” sci-fi films like Blade Runner 2049 and even that meme that won’t die, Inception. Unfortunately, no amount of expensive sets, props, and pretty actors can hide the fact that the script is an under-cooked dish containing tired old clichés and predictable plot twists. Sure, this movie is pretty to look at, but I sadly won’t be reminiscing about it much.