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Film noir to forget about

Reminiscence delivers neither a good story nor a much-needed message for our time


Ben Rothstein/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Film noir to forget about
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Reminiscence may be about the power of memories, but this is one movie that is regrettably forgettable.

The new film from Warner Bros. packs plenty of star power as actors Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson, who worked together in The Greatest Showman, rejoin forces. But big stars and solid performances aren’t enough to carry a script that can’t decide what it wants to be.

The story takes place in Miami in the dystopian future, where a war and global warming have caused the oceans to rise and mankind to become nocturnal because of the daytime’s increased heat. Audiences meet Nick Bannister (Jackman), a war survivor possessing a particular talent that allows him, with the aid of a futuristic machine, to cause people vividly to relive their own memories. Besides helping people escape the dreariness of their lives, Nick’s ability enables him to aid citizens and local law enforcement in unraveling mysteries.

This plot initially works as viewers seem to embark on an exhilarating sci-fi ride similar to Minority Report. But then the film turns in a darker direction, morph­ing into a futuristic but lesser version of the Jack Nicholson film noir Chinatown. In the end, a muddled plot and a weak payoff leave audiences feeling they were entertained but not satisfied. With violence, foul language, and sexual situations, Reminiscence easily earns its PG-13 rating.

What’s most disappointing is not so much what this film is, but what it could have been. At one point near the end of the story, the film has a chance to redeem itself by taking a stance on whether having the ability to relive the past is a good thing or not. It’s an opportunity to remind audiences to live in the present, not wallow in nostalgia. As C.S. Lewis put it, “The Present is the point at which time touches eternity” and therefore is where we should aspire to spend most of our thought lives (The Screwtape Letters).

Such a message could have encouraged Christian and non-Christian viewers alike to break from patterns of reminiscing and regret and flourish in the “holy present.” Instead, as Nick decides whether to continue living in the present or the past, Reminiscence provides a contemporary answer, suggesting the reasonable solution is whatever makes us happy. Such an idea fits all too neatly into postmodern thinking.

Taking this easy way out is exactly why Reminiscence will require the likes of Nick and his machine for anyone to remember it.

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