After so many of “the same” Liam Neeson movies, I can see why the actor would be tempted to accept the lead in Martin Campbell’s Memory even though it skates close to the same uninspired style he brands himself with.
Neeson is playing yet another hired gun, Alex Lewis, but he recuses himself from a recent “job” after the target is revealed to be a young child. This infuriates the client and Lewis, knowing of the challenges he’s made for himself, rolls with the punches that come his way; including taking out whoever has been hired to take Alex out. While Alex is on the run, an FBI task force (led by Guy Pearce) with intel on history behind the botched hit also follows Lewis’ whereabouts.
The premise for Memory is par for the course, but Neeson’s Alex Lewis (who is battling his own debilitating dementia) has more backstory to him than what most filmmakers offer the actor nowadays. I wouldn’t be surprised if Neeson sends a “thank you” card to screen writer Dario Scardapane. Even so, Scardapane’s screenplay (a remake of 2003’s The Memory of a Killer) is still uneven to a major fault. Neeson’s story and Pearce’s motivations feel like they belong in their own movies, and Campbell doesn’t find a workaround to make them work together. Campbell (following up from his equally mediocre thriller The Protégé last year) also has difficulty staging action sequences that aren’t inherently goofy. The kills in Memory are supposed to be brutal and cutthroat but, instead, most of the results provoke unintentional laughter (someone getting shot in the head on a treadmill, for instance).
But between the tonal discrepancies, ultimately, is an uninvolving movie that boils down to a real slog. It’s marginally better than Neeson’s earlier endeavour Blacklight, but hardly.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie