An average movie that boasts a stellar cast
- Release date: 04/29/2022
- Cast: Liam Neeson, Guy Pierce, Monica Bellucci, Ray Stevenson
- Director: Martin Campbell
I’ve been a Liam Neeson fan ever since I was blown away by Taken (Pierre Morel, 2008). It was more or less a benchmark for me and my friends during our college days and whenever there was a new action movie hitting the streets there was only one question – is- this as good as Taken? Neeson starred in a series of sequels to Taken which gradually deteriorated. Building on the success of Takenother directors took over the basic formulas of the film in their own stories that took place in cities, planes, trains, trucks and even a freezing hell. Neeson maintained his enthusiasm in these performances and in each of these films, he was by far the best thing about it all.
Unfortunately, with MemoryI think the character and personality of Neeson who was born with Taken have finally reached their end. When he was killed off in the movie, I felt like that marked the end of both the on-screen character as well as recurring characters that Neeson had been playing in different variations since Brian Mills had threatened his daughter’s kidnapper at the phone and delivered on his threat.
In Memory, Neeson plays a skilled killer, Alex Lewis who is hired by the infamous Davana Sealman (Monica Bellucci) to seal all the details that point to a heinous crime his son has committed. Things turn sour for Alex when he has to kill a child as part of the contract. He decides not to kill her, causing his bosses to send in replacement killers. Alex suffers from a degenerative brain disease and is unable to remember things correctly. This leads to some interesting situations as he lands in one frying pan after another as he tries to bail out his contract and keep the child safe as well.
Vincent (Guy Pierce) is on the trail of a human trafficking racket and all his clues lead him to the same child Alex was trying to save. As he digs deeper into the case, he realizes she’s a small clog in a big machine that involves some of the biggest names in town. As Vincent tries to figure out the game and identify the players, Alex takes out one player after another for his own reasons. Vincent is confused if Alex is on his side or just fixing things for the real bad guys.
Memory has enough in terms of story and plot to keep audiences interested and engaged but my problem with the film was in its treatment and the way the story was approached. Much of it was about men talking and that too in the most generic way, with no novelty or creativity infused into the footage to earn some interest and intrigue from viewers. Martin Campbell is known for his creativity, pacing, style and physical treatment of action sequences, but none of these elements could be seen in his presentation of Memory.
The pacing of the film was another issue for me. There were sequences like the one in which Alex visits his brother that I think could have been easily changed as they didn’t add anything to the story. The proceedings could have been sped up a bit and that would not only add a much-needed sense of urgency to the film, but also help elevate the thrill elements of the story that have otherwise been undermined by the slow plot development. .
The film’s action sequences were toned down to match the realistic tone and setting of the film and its aging lead. Although it might make perfect sense due to what the director wanted, but I have to ask if it was a good idea. We associate the cast of Liam Neeson with elaborate sets and the man who manages to flex his fighting muscles even though he was shot and edited in a way that leaves no room to enjoy the action in long, wide and expansive holds. If not the action, at least the planning and execution of the action could have been a little more elaborate to generate some thrill and interest. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here, and as a result, the film’s action is one of its weakest and somewhat boring elements.
The next issue I had with the movie was very personal and maybe not really an issue for other viewers. I have a certain image of Liam Neeson and have had that image for as long as I can remember. To me, it’s a super cool killing machine that doesn’t make a single misstep. He is good with weapons. He’s an exemplary planner and a smooth talker who can disarm anyone with his baritone and choice of words. Surprisingly for me, in Memory, all of that is gone. He is a stuttering old man with disheveled hair and a mouth full of degenerate yellow teeth. He looks like someone who is about to die with every step. Even the assassinations he’s supposed to pull off didn’t work for me because he didn’t feel like a man capable of performing such feats. I walked out of the theater with a broken heart after witnessing the man I worshiped after watching movies like Taken and A walk among the tombstones, disintegrated to such an extent that I hardly recognize him. Although it might have been a creative choice due to the medical condition the character was suffering from, but it didn’t do much for the story or the plot and could have been avoided entirely.
Guy Pierce was good and was in many ways the main man in the movie. He did enough to not only sell his character, but also his frustration and pent up anger, which did wonders for the story and the drama that Campbell was trying to drive with his script. Monica Bellucci is always a pleasure to watch on screen, but here she didn’t have much to do. Luckily, even in this diminutive guise, she leaves an impact but is grossly undermined by her character’s terrible writing.
Last but not least, the film suffers a lot from the lack of a solid antagonist. The movie’s villains are there just to be taken down by Alex. They have no character, they have no panache, and they have absolutely no fear factor associated with them. When you have a flawed protagonist trying to get ahead of their health, the idea of having a strong villain is always welcome as it definitely raises the bar for the protagonist and adds tension to the narrative. Martin Campbell kind of completely missed that point and gave us villains whose names I didn’t care to remember. They were so generic and were dispatched with such ease by the protagonist that they never felt threatening or memorable.
To sum it up, Martin Campbell was a man who could have revitalized Neeson’s waning career and could have made a solid actor who was stylish, was laced with powerful drama, had interesting characters and above all, spellbinding action sets that are synonymous with Martin Campbell Films. Sadly, it fails miserably on every count and ends up with a film that does nothing to resurrect a spiraling Neeson career. It’s an average movie at best that boasts a stellar cast that just hangs around.
Rating 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 stars)
Read also : Cannes screening of the Assamese film ‘Boomba Ride’