Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Liam Neeson, Monica Bellucci, Guy Pearce, Ray Stevenson, Taj Atwal, Ray Fearon, Harold Torres
Runtime: 1 hr 54 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence & Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 12 May 2022
Synopsis: Alex Lewis (Liam Neeson) is an expert assassin with a reputation for discreet precision. When Alex refuses to complete a job for a dangerous criminal organisation, he becomes a target and must go on the hunt for those who want him dead. Veteran FBI agents Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce), Linda Amistead (Tai Atwal) and Mexican Intelligence Liaison Hugo Marquesz (Harold Torres) are brought in to investigate the trail of bodies left in Alex's wake. With both the crime syndicate and FBI in hot pursuit, Alex has the skills to stay ahead, except for one thing - he is struggling with severe memory loss, affecting his every move and making his objective increasingly difficult to complete. As details blur and enemies close in, Alex is forced to question his every action, and who he can trust.
At the age of 56, Irish born Liam Neeson became Hollywood’s most sought-after action hero after the success of the Luc Besson’s produced Taken. In the ensuing years, the lanky actor has done at least 12 action-oriented flicks and two sequels to his 2008 sleeper hit. Despite reaching the age of 70, Neeson is not stopping anytime soon and Memory marks his second action feature this year. And it’s only May.
Teaming up with veteran director, Martin Campbell, the man responsible for two little spy movies, Goldeneye and Casino Royale, Memory is a remake of the 2003 Belgian movie The Memory of a Killer, which in turn was adapted from the novel “De Zaak Alzheimer”. The original was a hit with critics which probably explained why it’s a match made in heaven for Campbell and Nesson, both needing a commercial hit after their recent lukewarm releases.
Alex Lewis (Nesson) is a hired assassin suffering from a slow onset of Alzheimer’s disease. He reluctantly accepts his final assignment before he loses his thinking and reasoning skills. As fate would have it, Lewis becomes entangled in a Mexican prostitution ring and he is forced to team up with a grizzled FBI agent, Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce) to solve the case of a wealthy and powerful family’s connection to a child prostitution case.
Campbell’s intention to turn this piece of escapist entertainment into something more memorable is admirable. Instead of relegating Lewis into an unstoppable fighting machine on his last lap, the script choses to go beyond the generic tropes to unravel a complex storyline involving a corrupted real estate mogul played by Italian sex siren Monica Bellucci and the pathetic legal system. It’s strangely the kind of movie that struggles to be both character-driven while at the same time offering some intense brief action sets to please Neeson’s fanbase.
For the most part, the plot meanders a bit to allow our leading man to put in some dramatic, thoughtful performance as a man on the verge of losing his memory. He has problems recalling certain important details but that really doesn’t stop him from killing all those who deserved deaths. Notably, it also helps to flesh out the dynamics between Alex and Vincent in their struggle to work out a partnership. The innocent killing of a child prostitute gives Neeson’s character a chance to redeem himself as a vigilante. For an assassin who is capable of some nasty killings, it’s rather refreshingly compelling to see another side of him while Pearce puts in a decent performance as a broken cop who is caught between an unsupportive boss and the state police.
Under the direction of Campbell, Memory is more of an engaging detective yard than relying solely on Neeson’s tough guy persona (No worries, that particular set of skills are still on display) despite the familiarity of the material. There’s no surprising twists nor turns, just some good old detective footwork and some old-school treatment from Campbell who obviously knows how to tell a taut, suspenseful tale on a minimal budget. While it’s confirmed there’s nothing spectacular regarding the plotting, it’s a tense effort nonetheless considering Neeson’s recent less-than-stellar outings.
(The team-up between Liam Neeson and Martin Campbell makes this run-of-the-mill crime flick very watchable)
Review by Linus Tee