In Hollywood’s never-ending mission to use every conceivable spin possible on Liam Neeson’s “particular set of skills” reluctant-assassin persona, the latest effort, Memory, has the anti-hero suffering from dementia while going up against a child sex-trafficking ring. It’s cringe-worthy, embarrassing and I’d rather forget I ever sat through it.
Directed by Martin Campbell (Green Lantern – 2011) and based on the Belgian book and film, De zaak Alzheimer (AKA The Memory of a Killer) by Jef Geeraerts, Memory has gunman-for-hire, Alex Lewis (Neeson)balking at killing a child prostitute who knows too much about her abusers. The girl is instead killed by one of Alex’s pals and the Alzheimer-assassin ends up with the Mexican mob, the FBI and the Texas police after him as he sets out to avenge the child.
The movie is clunky and poorly acted and uses the serious subjects of dementia and child exploitation as gimmicky plot devices. There could have been a serious and seriously good story and film here – and maybe that’s what was originally envisioned – but what we get instead is just creepy, cruel and dumb.
Neeson is a decent enough actor, but he needs to step away from this stereotype and these easy paychecks. The cast also includes Guy Pearce, who once starred in his own, infinitely better missing-memory picture (see Memento – 2000), as the lead of the FBI’s child-trafficking unit; Ray Stevenson (Marvel’s Volstagg and one-time Punisher) as a corrupt Texas cop; Monica Bellucci as a weird Texas real estate mogul; and Stella Stocker as a call-girl with no known purpose in the film.
There is a classic Randy Newman song, Potholes, that says, “God bless the potholes down on memory lane.” And here’s hoping that this film falls into one of those soon.