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Reminiscence (2021) Review: A Fractured Sci-Fi Thriller to Be Forgotten

The dystopian-era thriller reiterates that memories are priceless, but Reminiscence (2021) is far from memorable.

For a film so romanced by memories, Warner Bros.' late summer feature fails to remember which direction it heads in and what genre it chooses to assign itself to. The seediness of a dystopian Miami, Florida, post-war references, and actor Hugh Jackman's Nick Bannister profiting from digitalized memories through advanced technology suggests science fiction. Reminiscence attempts to keep its romantic arc afloat by packing it atop a crime centerpiece, and the attempt to balance multiple thematics at once is ultimately lost in translation.

Jackman, supported by co-star Thandiwe Newton as Watts, the wisecracking private investigator who is quick to reach for the bottle, exerts themselves to add personality to a movie that is devoid of individuality. Every predictable trope from multiple genres is reused more than once. The collage of genres clashes inefficiently against each other. The movie focuses its energy on its grittiness and its roughness instead of tending to its strengths. If it committed to being a noir piece, it would strike the success it so desperately seeks. It's almost expected that Jackman unsheathes his Wolverine claws and calls someone "bub" when he hits the peak of his fits of rage.

Reminiscence is written and directed by Lisa Joy of Westworld (2016-2022) fame. Unfortunately, any Westworld complexities are left behind as Joy's screenwriting is flat and uninspired. On many occasions, Bannister declares his status as a war veteran. Though the war left devastation in its wake, there's not even a glimpse of what that war was like, let alone explained as to why it was fought. The narrative is flushed beneath the blackened theme of the movie and the dialogue is drowned beneath the unscrambling of Mae's (Rebecca Ferguson) profoundly troubled past. Even in the midst of Mae's truth being brought to light, Joy prioritizes her love for Bannister over her unforgiving, inescapable past. In turn, Bannister's obsession with Mae overshadows the intensity of the film. His unceasing infatuation is the singular motivation behind his actions, eliminating the chance of character development.

The overall choppy inconsistency of editing and sound mixing weakens the quality of the film on an inescapable level. There are gaps in context that confuse the story even further as it proceeds to lose sight of how a resolution will be determined. The volume of the score cancels out any dialogue being spoken and the two disharmonize on a constant basis. Jackman's narrative voiceovers are awkward and are out of place beyond the initial introduction of the first act. They go without originality as his character interjects to shares personal insights. References to crucial events that shape the foundations of the film are left without detail. Scenes feel as if many incomplete cuts have been stitched together. Panoramic aerial shots that establish a sea-soaked and impoverished downtown are uninterestingly monotonous. They feature nothing new other than alternative angles of the same sodden cityscape.

Reminiscence's official synopsis is gripping with an air of mystery around it. To the misfortune of the film itself, the film in its entirety is deeply impaired by its unexciting, deficient take on what could have been a refreshing science fiction crime thriller. 4/10.

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Chuck Lindsey
Chuck Lindsey
Aug 18, 2021

Oh no!!!! I was kind of (kind of) looking forward to seeing this. Great review, Annie!!!

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