61 / 100
Watchable Minutes : Out of the 115 minutes, I’d say that 75 of them are watchable. The movie is just boring and way too familiar, as I’ll explain below. It was tough to keep my attention and I was distracted by the uncomfortable theater seat that I got stuck with.
Trailer Comparison : The trailer is better than the actual movie, for sure. It has the intrigue and the mystery without the agonizing run time.
Movie or Film : Reminiscence has plenty of environmental messaging just under the hood, but it’s so ham fisted and poorly delivered that I can’t allow this to be called a film. The intent behind it was good, but it just came off as preachy and contrived.
- Run time : 1 hr 55 min
- Studio : Warner Bros.
- Director : Lisa Joy
- Where to Watch : In Theaters, HBO Max
Nick Bannister runs a small time detective agency in the downtown of sunken Miami. His specialty is memory and he uses skills he learned in the war as an interrogator to ascertain the truth from his clients memories. When a woman comes in before close one day, Nick offers to help her anyway. During her memory session, he sees more than what his new client intended and is soon swept up into a larger conspiracy that will shake the sunken coastline to it’s roots.
Fans of the HBO series Westworld will notice quite a few familiar names attached to Reminiscence. There’s Lisa Joy and Jonathon Nolan behind the camera as director / writer and producer respectively. In front of the camera there’s Thandie Newton and Angela Sarafyan as supporting actress and side character respectively. While this group of four works well together in the Westworld environment, they did not mesh as well on this movie. I was very excited and eager to give Joy a chance as a major motion picture director and while this wasn’t the strongest outing, she did write a decently compelling story. There was a lot going for this movie in my opinion. Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, and Thandie Newton have been and continue to be some of the most bankable names in Hollywood but they just aren’t enough to make this a good movie.
To set the scene, Reminiscence was a movie I had been optimistically looking forward to for weeks and it was finally here. But after watching it, it just didn’t impact me in any sort of meaningful way. I wasn’t even very entertained by the movie and feel like I wasted my money on the ticket to see this on the big screen. The best way I can explain it is that it all feels too familiar. What I mean by that is that this type of story is over 70 years old and is very reminiscent (sorry, had to) of the silver age of cinema. There was plenty of things that I enjoyed individually, but all those pieces lacked overall cohesion and failed to put it all together in a satisfying way.
What I really enjoyed about Reminiscence was the setting. The unique scenario with the rising sea levels and shrinking coastlines lead to divisions of class and wealth, which is very believable. They mentioned several times that there were bloody wars that claimed thousands of lives and further divided the masses. This type of conflict would realistically allow a detective to have plenty of work in the poorer sections of town where crime runs rampant and police are overworked. It’s also fairly believable to think that the detective character would have been dealing with some sort of issue, whether it was PTSD or trust or whatever. Also, it’s basically a given that he would have an equally damaged companion who was a compliment to his flaws. All the good, familiar story elements are here but they fail to add up to anything that’s worthwhile.
With that said, I think I know what would have made this movie more enjoyable from where I was sitting. Instead of putting this in the near future, put this story in post WWII Europe with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as Det. Nick Bannister and Mae instead of Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson. Change the setting and swap out two actors and boom!, you have a more satisfying movie because it goes head first into familiar territory. I’m not saying that Jackman and Ferguson did a bad job, but this isn’t in their wheelhouse I feel. The same goes for Newton and Sarafyan. They are incredibly bankable names that should have been able to make it work on paper. Their performances were all solid, no complaints there. But a good performance can’t outwork a subpar story.
Aside from my story gripes, the scoring was interesting. I love the heavy guitar riffs and it just put me in the right headspace to watch this movie. Definite A+ on that front, but the rest of the score and the soundtrack was incredibly flat and inconsequential. There were also a few moments where the CGI just didn’t quite work either. It felt very plasticky and almost smoothed over. It was almost like the motion blur was on in the graphics settings so it smoothed out a lot of textures. I think this is one of the rare movies that would have been better suited to my TV in my living room because the detail would have been smaller so I wouldn’t have noticed it as much.
Reminiscence is a movie that I regret paying the ticket price for and would have gladly watched at home on my couch instead. I was cruising HBO Max looking for something to watch before I left my house and almost decided “Hey, why not watch it here?” and unfortunately decided that it would probably be more enjoyable at the theater. I loved being in the room, but I did not love the movie.
If you like this, check out :
- The Maltese Falcon