April 29th, 2022
STARRING: LIAM NEESON, GUY PEARCE, MONICA BELLUCCI, TAJ ATWAL
DIRECTED BY: MARTIN CAMPBELL
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
The cast, the director, the anticipation of an action drama, and all inbetween had me perked up for Martin Campbell’s Memory. With Liam Neeson in the lead spot, a supporting cast of Guy Pearce, Monica Bellucci, and Ray Stevenson, there is a lot there to work with, including the director of Casino Royale working in his element. Maybe other critics could have expected this to be a disappointment, but I would call Memory one of the biggest disappointments of 2022. Similar to how Ambulance excited critics, you always want a movie without superheroes, something original, and not backing of international properties to succeed. Unfortunately, Memory is not all pieced together, with a generic plot of police, a hitman, and powerful people above it all pulling the strings. Memory has some bright spots but the final result is a bit hazy.
It stars Neeson as Alex Lewis, a hitman at the end of his career, finishing out a few jobs before he can hopefully head off into the sunset. But alas he has a few more jobs and not wanting to let his employers know, he’s already having bouts with early alzheimer’s. Being forgetful is the last thing you want in a hitman, where Lewis has moments of thinking he’s lost his keys, mistakenly orders a drink twice, and even needs a reminder as to who his target is. He willingly takes out two targets, but when the third target is 12-year old Beatriz Leon (Mia Sanchez), a young girl that has been put into protection from sex trafficking, that’s where Lewis draws the line. In a turn, Lewis helps FBI agent Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce) and his team, with the hopes of giving them enough information to stop the powerful Davana Sealman (Monica Bellucci) and others that hired Lewis to kill the child in the first place.
It’s a bit hard to say where the blame should rest in Memory. The screenplay, written by Dario Scardapane- taken from the book by Jef Geeraerts and loosely based on the German film The Memory of a Killer– fails to establish a single character that we should be attached with. The bottom line is that every character is scummy, Ray Stevenson plays a crooked cop, Pearce’s FBI agent is stuck with a constant startled look, and Neeson’s character is oddly sidelined. It’s that combo of an unfocused screenplay and too many characters that make Memory a major mess. What could be a cut and dry throwback to hard nosed cops and hired killers is all over the place.
The biggest surprise of all is an uncharacteristically messy film from director Martin Campbell. The director had a comeback last year with The Protege, delivering the action movie that Maggie Q so rightfully deserves, but here he’s spinning too many plates. Outside of an opening scene of Neeson taking out a target in a brutal fashion, there’s very little thrills from Memory, lacking in set pieces as well. Memory is less thrilling action and instead equal to a person trying to recite the ingredients to a recipe for soup. There’s little going on, and unless you actually get to taste the soup, there’s even less to care about.
Once again, I’m not saying that the era of Liam Neeson action movies need to die entirely, there still could be a winner waiting in the wings, but this marks three misses in a row. There’s something off in these films and it’s not Neeson phoning it in. The Taken star brings his stature and his stern Irish grin with him. It’s the material that is letting him down. It’s all a shame with Memory, which includes a director and cast that I want to see succeed. The harsh reality is that Memory never works. This is one movie that is quite easy to forget.
MEMORY IS PLAYING IN THEATERS FRIDAY APRIL 29TH, 2022
Written by: Leo Brady