Reminiscence has sort of snuck up on me in a way. The new sci-fi movie starring Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson hits cinemas this Friday with very little fanfare whatsoever. I hadn’t really seen marketing bar a poster as I entered Cineworld, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of it.
It was written and directed by Lisa Joy. I imagine she got started on it after a triple bill of Blade Runner, Inception and whatever Criterion Collection noir movie she could find on her shelf. The basic premise is, in a dystopian Miami where the sea levels have risen to an extreme degree, Jackman plays a reminiscence operator who helps people journey back into their best, or worst, memories. He is sent on a mission to discover why his mysterious girlfriend (Ferguson) has disappeared.
The film really tries to go all in and evoke a laundry list of mind-bending and/or noir movies for its entire runtime. The film has a full story narration which in many ways feels as if it’s been ripped out of the (largely panned) theatrical cut of Blade Runner. This includes Jackman doing his best disinterested yet existential Harrison Ford impression. It really gives the film a fake feeling, as if it was a movie shot to be played in the background of another movie. There is nothing natural here; it actively repelled me from engaging with it at times. Just as I was finally starting to get on board, a decision would be made by a character, or a cliché on the level of self-parody would crop up, sending me right back out of the world.
And what a fascinating world it was. Which made it all the more disappointing that it just felt wasted. You have this dystopian Miami where skyscrapers have been submerged. There are massive walls around the city to keep some of the water out. It has all the trappings of a tremendous future dystopia with crime syndicates, weird drugs and awesome looking tech. Any establishing shot looked incredible and made you wish they’d focus on something a little bit more exciting and intelligent.
Overall, the film fails to engage and borrows so much from its predecessors it doesn’t seem to have much of an identity of its own. On the plus side, the incredible looking world and some briefly interesting revelations in the story manage to save it from being a complete waste of time. I really want to make a joke about forgetting, considering the premise. Still, I feel other reviewers will be able to churn out a better pun than me.
Reminiscence is out in both UK and US cinemas on August 20th
You can expect a video review about the movie at some point in the next week!