I’m convinced Liam Neeson is simply putting out the same movie every six months and waiting to see how long it takes people to catch on.
“Memory” is the latest “Liam Neeson with a gun” film, this time following an aging hitman with early onset dementia who must save an illegal immigrant child from a trafficking ring. Guy Pearce, Monica Bellucci, Harold Torres, Taj Atwal, Ray Stevenson, and Ray Fearon also star while Martin Campbell directs.
This is the 16th film in which Liam Neeson plays a [retired/retiring] [profession involving guns] in which he must battle [disease/personal demon] to rescue a [child/damsel] from a [topical situation]. His last outing was “Blacklight” this past February, and that was among the worst of the bunch. “Memory” is an improvement over that, but still fails to scratch the glory days of “Taken” and “Run All Night.”
Liam Neeson tries in these movies, so I’ll give him credit there; he could easily mail it in like so many aging actors do in these VOD action flicks (also to his credit he releases his films on the big screen). Here he has some very simple but effective-enough moments where he is struggling to come to terms with his fading memory and grasp on reality, but Anthony Hopkins in “The Father” it is not.
The rest of the cast is fine, with Guy Pearce playing a no nonsense FBI agent and Monica Bellucci as the head of a shady (and vague) company. They all are just here for a paycheck, but much like Neeson at least they aren’t totally sleepwalking through their roles.
The issue with “Memory” is it’s barely a Liam Neeson film. It’s really more of Pearce’s story, with Neeson occasionally showing up to (ever-so-slightly) affect the plot. His titular memory issues don’t really even come into play except for one scene, and while the “did I kill this person? I can’t remember” could be an interesting angle (akin to Pearce’s famous “Memento” role), the film seems to have no actual interest in it. Also, while the topic of dementia can be sensitive for some and the film never gets exploitive, it does inch towards ”icky” a few times.
Unlike the last few Neeson films this is rated R, so we do get a couple fun shootout sequences (Campbell directed “Casino Royale” and several other action flicks), and I’m always a sucker for a good throat-slit in movies. But there’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
“Memory” has its core base already cut out, because at this point you’re either on-board with the Liam Neeson movies or you’ve grown tired of them (there’s clearly still an audience or they wouldn’t keep spending $25 million to make them). I wasn’t a huge fan of this film but it’s totally harmless, so if you just want to go to the theater there are worse ways to spend two hours; just don’t expect anything memorable.
Critics Rating: 4/10
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