Friday 20 August 2021

Reminiscence (Movie Review)

The Warner Bros. slate of 2021 movies has been pretty much hit or miss thus far, with some truly standout films like Judas and the Black Messiah getting offset by some middling undertakings like The Little Things. So in a way, the fact that all those movies have been getting a simultaneous release on HBO Max almost seems like a godsend. And if ever there was one of these films that feels almost tailor-made for the streaming platform, then that film is Reminiscence.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future where most coastal cities are largely submerged underwater, the film follows Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a former war veteran who now works as a private investigator of the mind. Using a device called the Reminiscence, Nick helps his clients to relive some of their fondest memories. Because apparently things have become so dreary in this particular future that people would rather look back at such memories than forwards. 

But after Nick falls in love with one of his clients, a beautiful woman named Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), he finds himself drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy when she disappears almost as suddenly as she had popped into his life. Now he must follow a breadcrumb trail of clues and lost memories that would lead him into the seediest recesses of a dying world in order to find her.

From the very first time I saw the trailers for Reminiscence, there was no shaking that overriding lack of excitement the film seemed to exude. Despite its respectable budget, and the presence of A-list stars, those initial showings just didn't do anything to move the needle. So my hope going into the movie then was that it was going to be a case of the actual movie being better than the trailers, because we've certainly had movies in the past that were undersold by their trailers. Well, it turns out its trailers were a perfect reflection of the film, as they simply didn't have anything exciting to pull from.

I am as much a sucker for high-concept sci-fi as the next man, and the one thing that could've drawn me into Reminiscence was its post-apocalyptic setting. But the world-building in the movie was so underwhelming that it was hard for me to fully buy into its premise. The same thing could be said about its core concept of reconstructing people's memories, which while not underutilized still wasn't used to do anything particularly groundbreaking or worthwhile for that matter. 

All that is not to say that the film did not have anything going for it. The world was certainly beautiful to look at at times, and the actors seemed fully committed to their roles. But the whole thing ultimately rang hollow. Maybe it is the fact that I have seen so many former war veterans turned private eyes at this point, or post-apocalyptic near futures where humanity teeters on the edge of extinction. Whatever the case, it definitely didn't help the movie, making it feel like a lesser version of those other works.

Reminiscence merges its high-concept premise with some classic hard-boiled detective storytelling. Unfortunately, the two don't always gel well together, resulting in a film that quickly starts to feel derivative. This also isn't helped by the fact that the film is plagued by some truly hamfisted dialogue, as well as pacing issues that prevent it from ever getting off the ground. But if you are willing to look past all of that, then the movie is at least worth passing some time with from the sturdy comfort of your couch.


  1. Yeah, I've seen similar reviews. Probably won't even bother watching it on HBO Max.

    1. Lol. Ouch. But also totally understandable. 😁