“Reminiscence” is written and directed by Lisa Joy (co-creator of HBO’s Westworld) and stars Hugh Jackman as Nicolas Bannister, a rugged veteran living in a near, dystopian future of Miami flooded by rising seas who offers clients the chance to relive any memory they desire. However, his life changes when he meets a mysterious young woman named Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). What begins as a simple matter of lost and found becomes a passionate love affair. But when a different client’s memories implicate Mae in a series of violent crimes, Nicolas must delve through the dark world of the past to uncover the truth about the woman he fell for.
“Reminiscence” has a lot going for it: an interesting, original concept with two strong leads backing up the film. A sci-fi film noir with a premise like this has so much potential to be something really special, and while my initial intrigue did stay with me throughout the majority of the two hour runtime, the end product is nowhere near as strong as it needs to be.
One clear way to tell that a movie is not great is when it presents you with a different movie that is much more interesting than the movie that you’re actually given. Throughout the whole film, we are told about a war that took place recently that lead to all the corruption and violence that is currently in the city. In this war, Nicolas used the machine that gave people the ability to relive their memories as interrogation tactics. Every single time the war was brought up in the film, I kept saying “where is this movie? How can I watch it?” Seeing this device used in a war setting to interrogate the enemy sounds way more interesting than seeing it be used for Hugh Jackman’s sappy character use it to find his missing crush.
And that’s another thing that I really didn’t like about the movie: Hugh Jackman’s Nicolas Bannister. I don’t know if it’s Jackman’s performance or the way that the character was written or a combination of both or what, but Nicolas Bannister is such an unlikable lead character. We’re asked to root for this man, but the man we’re asked to root for is just obnoxious, irritating and obsessive over this woman he just met; so much so that it starts becoming uncomfortable to watch. Thandiwe Newton’s character in the film is truly the voice of reason because every time she rolls her eyes at everything Nicolas is doing, I was doing the same.
The VFX in this movie are pretty spotty. While the flooded Miami cityscape is extremely cool to see and the world building of the universe is exceptional, the CGI used to create it aren’t always where they should be. The world often feels like a cutscene from a video game with the effects being a little too sharp in execution. We open up the film going through the city and like I said it’s really well realized (and unfortunately probably will become a reality one day), but it just didn’t look all that real.
The mystery element of this is done pretty well as is the action sequences for the most part, however I do think with how slowly paced the majority of the film is (which the slow pace does work in its favor in the end with it being a film noir and all) some action scenes can feel out of place despite how entertaining and well choreographed they can be. The mystery is what kept me watching and it does end in a somewhat satisfying conclusion, at least one that makes sense.
“Reminiscence” gets a lot of points for its originality and unique concept, but it’s not even the best movie pitched in the film itself. It’s currently in theaters and streaming on HBO Max so I’d say if you already have HBO Max and are interested in watching, go ahead but it’s definitely not worth your money paying admission at the theater.