REMINISCENCE – Review by Susan Granger
Set sometime in a dystopian future in water-logged Miami – reflecting climate change and rising tides – the pulpy story introduces Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), who – with his partner Watts (Thandiewe Newton) – operates a flotation tank in which people can retrieve selective memories from their past.
These memories – archived in Nick’s vault on glass discs – are projected in hologram-like 3-D visual recordings.
“Time is no longer a one-way stream…Memory is the boat that sails against its current, and I’m the oarsman,” Nick declares in a repetitive voice-over. “The past is just a series of moments, each one perfect, complete, a bead on the necklace of time…Nothing is more addictive than the past.”
When the doorbell rings, into Nick’s scruffy life steps a Femme Fatale (Rebecca Ferguson). The dame’s named Mae. She’s a sultry cabaret singer, specializing in torch songs. She says she can’t find her keys, but it’s abundantly obvious that she’s after Nick. But why?
A convoluted conspiracy revolves around corrupt slumlord Walter Sylvan (Brett Cullen), his wife (Marina de Tavira), his mistress (Angela Sarafyan) and his sniveling son (Mojean Aria) – plus a drug kingpin (Daniel Wu), peddling an addictive opiate called ‘baca.’
So what went wrong on this South Beach jog down memory lane?
Perhaps it’s because first time feature writer/director Lisa Joy, who co-created HBO’s Westworld with her husband, Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan’s brother, wrote a clunky, cliché-filled, confusing script – plus, her predictably melodramatic pacing plods.
Although Ferguson and Jackman previously teamed in The Greatest Showman, there’s little on-screen chemistry with more talk than action.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Reminiscence” is a frustrating, forgettable 5, available in theaters (if you want to risk the Delta variant) or on HBO Max.