I didn’t have too much faith going in to see Reminiscence as I decided to watch it for a Friday night movie. And for a minute, I thought the movie might be a little surprising, but like a lot of movies like this, it gets under my skin with the same tired tropes and cliches.
Set in a near future Miami (and New Orleans briefly) where climate change has caused the streets to be flooded to areas that are mostly underwater, Hugh Jackman plays a private eye type of character named Nick Bannister, a name of which an admirer of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett would’ve wrote in a creative writing class about 50 years ago.
Bannister is a private investigator of the mind as people are placed in a sensory deprivation-like container and have a headset placed that brings up their memories in three-dimensional holograms. Thandiwe Newton plays Watts, his partner.
One day as they’re getting ready to close, a woman named Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) comes in claiming she’s misplaced her keys, asking to be placed in the container. Naturally, Bannister is attracted to her and they begin a relationship, but she goes missing for months, leading Bannister to seek what happened.
The movie brings up elements that were used in other movies, such as Strange Days as we’re witnessing what the person saw in past memories through their point of view. And it reminded me of Somewhere in Time and The Orville‘s episode “Lasting Impressions,” where a character falls in love with their idea of a person in the past without fully knowing who they were.
There’s also a lot of social commentary that never goes anywhere. Many other sci-fi movies have focused on climate change and rising waters. From what I gathered, there was a war sometime many years before the beginning of the movie as Bannister is a veteran serving two tours in the Gulf.
Another character played by Daniel Wu makes references to historical events such as Japanese Internment and the flooding of New Orleans when the levees broke. I don’t know if the character is referring to Americans of Asian descent again being interned or if it was certain Americans. There is so much flying around in this movie that is just mentioned without going further. Reminiscence was filmed before the Covid-19 pandemic, but there’s always been a strong anti-Asian sentiment among people.
Lisa Joy, who co-created and has worked behind the scenes on the HBO show Westworld, is both the writer and director. This is her directorial debut, but it seems sloppy. Her brother-in-law is Christopher Nolan and you can see similarities with Inception.
I had a lot of questions after seeing Inception but at least it was well made. This isn’t. The twists aren’t really that impressive and it relies on the Law of the Most Extraneous Character.
I think Joy may make a better movie in the future. But since Warner Bros. had already purchase the distribution rights to this months before the cameras began rolling, I feel they were hoping to market it off of her name. But since it’s had its release date changed a few times, that’s not a good sign.
Joy sets up a great world with so much going on, but only manages to focus on a story that isn’t that interesting I actually liked how people were expected to just go along with the streets being flooded ankle-deep or even totally submerged while the wealthy elite lived segregated.
Like I said before, there’s a lot of good ideas floating around, but the storyline isn’t the least bit interesting to keep it above water.