‘Reminiscence’ is an attention-grabbing title for the newest Liam Neeson thriller. Do you keep in mind the final Liam Neeson thriller? Or the one earlier than that? Who was it that bought took in that one? It started getting onerous to inform these movies from each other years in the past, and but they’ve stored coming. “Key & Peele” solely appears extra prophetic for making the actor’s identify plural.
“Liam Neesons” is correct. He comprises, and kills, multitudes. “Reminiscence,” which opens in theaters Friday, doesn’t a lot alter the formulation however makes for a brutal and bleak variation on the Liam Neeson theme. It casts a broader, extra interwoven noir tapestry set across the Texas borderlands, with an ensemble forged together with Man Pearce, Monica Bellucci, and Ray Stevenson. When you come to “Reminiscence” hoping Neeson goes to growl one-liners like “Commit THAT to reminiscence!” or “If reminiscence serves me appropriately, you’re toast!” — you might be shocked to discover a film much less occupied with such action-star heroics than it’s one thing murkier and extra cynical. Does that make it good? Properly, I wouldn’t go that far.
The filmmaking, by Martin Campbell, the British director of thrillers each shiny (“On line casino Royale”) and gritty (“Fringe of Darkness”), lacks the feel and sense of place that would have made “Reminiscence” (a lot of which was shot in Bulgaria) one thing greater than a throwaway. However the performers — Neeson and significantly Pearce — don’t cellphone something in. Neeson performs an El Paso, Texas, murderer named Alex Lewis who tilts extra towards dangerous man territory than many of the actor’s protagonists. After all, although, Alex has an ethical compass that gained’t tolerate sure issues. He smashes one man’s head in opposition to the bar for his impolite conduct towards a prostitute. And he gained’t kill youngsters. When Alex refuses to kill a 13-year-old lady (Mia Sanchez), a criminal offense syndicate looking for to cowl up a toddler trafficking ring comes after him. On the identical time, Alex is starting to expertise early onset Alzheimer’s. That, curiously, solely seldom impacts his mission to guard the lady and produce down the syndicate, but it surely does make Alex even bolder; his life is fading away, anyway. On the identical time, the FBI agent Vincent Serra (Pearce) is attempting to carry down the ring and is watching over the exact same teenage lady, however his higher-ups hold pushing him towards different circumstances. Pearce’s very presence in a memory-loss thriller is a nod to “Memento.” In a single scene, when Neeson writes clues on his forearm to assist himself keep in mind, you half anticipate Pearce to seize the pen and provides him a couple of pointers. There’s a lot that’s acquainted in “Reminiscence,” a remake of the 2003 Belgian thriller “Reminiscence of a Killer.”
Alex and Vincent type a unfastened partnership as two males attempting to hold out one act of justice in a spot with out it. If the Liam Neeson thriller has forged Neeson as a form of globe-trotting vigilante and defender of justice in a fallen world, it’s becoming that he ought to make his approach to the US-Mexican border. Credit score “Reminiscence” for summoning outrage for the plight of younger Mexican immigrants alongside the border. Pearce, sweaty and grungy, steadies “Reminiscence”; it’s his movie as a lot as Neeson’s. But when something, they appear like actors who must be in one thing higher than this, an usually slipshod film populated largely by inventory and half-formed characters — like Bellucci’s considerably ridiculous millionaire, an El Paso mogul pulling strings to cowl for her son. There’s simply sufficient right here to think about a greater, extra memorable iteration of “Reminiscence.” “Reminiscence,” an Open Highway launch, is rated R by the Movement Image Affiliation of America for for violence, some bloody photographs and language all through. Working time: 114 minutes. Two stars out of 4. By Jake Coyle