Liam Neeson really needs an update in his career, if he continues to do more of the same thing, his name is going to completely fade out of relevancy- when he passes away, virtually no one will remember him. The same goes for those who keep greenlighting these projects written to fit the genre that is the Liam Neeson crime thriller, they all are separate movies yet somehow feel like they’re all just the same movie under a different title. Even if Memory is a remake of a foreign film, it also just copies everything else Liam Neeson has starred in since his first Taken movie- cold and emotionally distanced.
The priority here is not so much on making sense, but more on trying to leave an impression through horrifying, squeamish imagery. Showing Liam tending to a bullet wound by lighting it on fire can only do so much in sustaining an audience’s attention, particularly because the viewer would be too overwhelmed by their constant suspension of disbelief. Okay, maybe one could accept him aiming perfectly at every target without even trying, and MAYBE one could accept him throwing a guy into a toilet so hard that it breaks the potty off its foundation, but the ease of getting away with murder in this world is stretched so far into the point of absurdity that even the target audience will be laughing at the accidental humor. The target audience consists of mostly men, as this is very much a male gaze type of movie; female viewers are clearly not prioritized in the entertainment value, especially in the part where Liam sleeps with a woman young enough to be his daughter.
Even testosterone-thirsty viewers, unfortunately, are unlikely to satisfactorily get what they paid for in this thriller that beautifies revenge. David Tattersall (The Green Mile) does a nauseous job as the movie’s cinematographer, resorting to a GoPro while filming a point-of-view from a horseback ride, never to use a camera perspective like that again. The sloppy action likewise cuts each frame off too soon without flowing properly into the next shot. With a decent editor, the fake blood effects wouldn’t be nearly as noticeable; with a decent editor, there could be included some scenes to offer a sense of mourning over the many deaths that occur, because right now, there aren’t any.
If there was anything to make Liam Neeson’s character distinct from any other he’s played, it would be his memory disorder; he does stutter and tremble his hand while performing simple tasks, like one who would actually have his disability, but more often than not his condition plays too little significance in the plot. He does write things on his forearm so that he doesn’t forget, but it doesn’t even play any part in the third act. Likewise, his brother has advanced Alzheimer’s to the point he’s practically a vegetable, but it barely has any significance to the story. Take it out, and nothing changes. These details are there for no reason other than to hold back plot information when it’s needed, which in turn undoes any character development Neeson may have already made.
The script really shouldn’t have treated its characters like plot exposition or plot progression, considering how over half of them didn’t even need to be present in this screenplay at all, it rather should have spent more time on the brief scene that shows families in detainment camps along Mexico’s border. That there proved how this movie could potentially provide a little awareness of important social issues. If that were exploited more beyond just the victims’ sad faces, then there would have been a reason to sit through this great big slog. Throwing in an obvious knockoff of Duolingo to help a woman learn Spanish was not an appropriate way to make this story an intelligent social commentary, that was just a lazy way to include product placement.
Now, if there is anything this delivers that could entertain the core audience, there are some nice touches of adrenaline that they would be seeking. In one little scene, fluorescent lights flicker over a tense confrontation, which happens in a bathroom with white tile buried beneath multicolored graffiti. It looks so vile yet so awesome, especially in consideration of what mood the particular scene was going for. At another location, these pigeons flutter from shadow to shadow inside an abandoned home right as a showdown is about to happen. At another location still, an office appears to be made of wood all over, a clever way to depict the economic status of where that office is located. Then outside when the police sirens are heard, something about the way they’re recorded makes them sound so real as if they really are right there in person. As these arrangements of setting and lighting work together, when done well, they enable some moments of genuine surprise.
Though don’t let that fool you into thinking that there’s anything happening in these scenes that look exciting, because nothing important ever happens in this boring crime thriller. Rather than wondering what’s going to happen next, you’ll just be resisting the urge to pull out a fat sharpie and draw smiley faces on the FBI characters due to getting so fed up with how cardboard their personalities are.
So why is it that Liam Neeson still continually agrees to star in the same movie over and over again? Why are these producers repeatedly making the same movie with expectations that it will stir up different results? That’s the definition of insanity: doing the same thing multiple times expecting some new outcome. Nobody needs to stumble down that cycle, nor does anybody need to encourage the continuation of that cycle, so let’s all do the world a favor and erase Memory from our memories. Gladly, it will take no effort to do so.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!