Casting Hugh Jackman with Rebecca Ferguson again as lovers after their successful collaboration in the Greatest Showman, in sci-fi romantic thriller sounds like a sure fire hit. Unfortunately, Reminiscence could not manage to elevate itself beyond just looking nice and a glimmer of something that might have been so much better.
Reminiscence takes place in a future where technology allows us to relive our past memories to be displayed like a 3-D image for not only the person itself but also anyone who happens to be around. High Jackman plays Nick Bannister, a man who makes a living selling time to his clients to relive their past happy memories as a form of escape from the dread of the harsh realities in a world where presumably climate change have caused the water level to have risen to the extend of making the city, in this case, Maimi, look like a giant Venice. Rebecca Ferguson is the mysterious client who changes his life the moment they meet. Naturally the romance that pursue would not turn out good and we are hurled into some sort of conspiracy involving murder and corruption.
What I liked about Reminiscence is its look and feel of a damaged future. The sets were quite elaborate and creative in its depiction of “normal” life in a Miami that is basically half sunk in water. Hugh Jackman cannot do wrong in most of his movies and here, he does a competent job. I dare say he excel more in the few moments where he had to say his softer and emotional side, than in the standard action sequences. Rebecca Ferguson who mimicked the magnificent singing in The Greatest Showman, gets to show off her real singing talent here as she has a few scenes where she sings in a lounge. Finally, there is Daniel Wu who had a small but memorable role as one of the villains. His character has a unique style and I especially liked that he so naturally mixed mandarin words in his sentences when she talks with total disregards on whether the person he is speaking to (or the audience for that matter) understands him or not! That is something I would remember!
Unfortunately despite all the positives, Reminiscence ultimately ends up feeling very mundane and familiar. The premise of the memory trip machine seems illogical and purely as a plot device. When so much of the story revolves around this theme, it opens up to many questions and loop holes to the viewers which becomes distracting. The over use of a voiceover narration also felt cliched and did not enhance the flow as much as it should. It’s a lazy way to convey feelings and emotions as well as flow of a movie.
Reminiscence could have been so much better than it is. Which is a pity especially since it had most of the ingredients and an amazing cast. Perhaps this could be due in part to its choice of Director, Lisa Joy who has not been known to be a director so much as a producer and writer. As it stands, I am probably going to forget about this movie by year end, except for Daniel Wu’s performance.