“Reminiscence” stars Hugh Jackman as Nick Bannister, a man with a machine that allows him and others to vividly experience memories of their past. When a mysterious new client shows up and then suddenly disappears, Nick becomes obsessed with finding out her secrets.
Pro – World building
The setting for “Reminiscence” feels like Rachel Maddow’s fevered dream of a second Trump term as President. Strangely, that world is interesting for a movie setting. Sometime in the future, a “border war” of some sorts has been fought, leaving a deep scar on the country (which may or may not even fully exist). Oceans have risen across the world, submerging coastal cities totally or in part. In Miami, much of the city is underwater, with people still inhibiting buildings with levels high enough to be dry. The rich land barons live on dry land, and it’s clear the divide between haves and have-nots has greatly increased. It’s a dystopian future for sure, but it’s also an amazing setting for a story. Waterlogged streets, boats floating through downtown, and living spaces, still furnished, completely under water gives the movie a gritty, unique feel. It’s a future where the world has changed, but not through technology, as most sci-fi would have suggest.
Pro – Wolverine
If most people were asked to make a list of the top ten actors in Hollywood, it feels like a safe bet that Hugh Jackman would appear in less than 10% of those lists, and yet, he might be the most talented actor in Hollywood. At ease playing young Wolverine, Old Wolverine, P.T. Barnum, and Jean Valjean with equal aplomb, Jackman can sing, dance, and act. On top of it, he’s incredibly attractive and appears to be one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. He is what Australian men and American women think all Australian men are like. Jackman is the highlight of “Reminiscence.” Ultimately, he’s not given enough to work with, but his presence makes the film feel like more than it is until it proves that it is not.
Con – Missing a “gimme”
A great setting and cast sets “Reminiscence” up nicely; unfortunately the story does not deliver. Reminiscence is very much a low sci-fi film noir, complete with brooding voice overs. Nick is the classic anti-hero, long on street smarts and grit, but short on luck, beaten down by life but too stubborn to stay down. Nick is apparently a private investigator, though that’s not really clear. Further, his path through the film hints at so much more, but by the end it’s disappointingly bland. This is made all the worse because the lack of payoff causes the audience to question why Nick did what he did (often incredibly foolishly) all film long. The film promises caviar but delivers hotdogs.
“Reminiscence” looks and feels cool. The setting is great and so is Jackman. Ultimately though even a great actor, a cool setting, and thrilling visuals can’t rescue a movie that is all chrome and no engine. Perhaps it’s the promise that “Reminiscence” seems to offer from the onset that sets itself up for failure. It’s not a bad film, but it is a disappointing one. Float on down to the Fridley Palms Theater and check out a movie this weekend.