In the last Liam Neeson movie earlier this year, Blacklight, he played an ageing FBI fixer who wanted to retire but was not allowed to by his superior. Here, in Memory, he plays an ageing contract killer, who wants to retire but is not allowed to by his hirers. The problem with so many of Liam Neeson’s recent movies is the lack of diversity in their plot and characters. I finding it more and more difficult to tell them apart! Neeson is a wonderful actor but he should be more selective of what he gets involved in and not end up make carbon copies of his films in succession.
On paper, Memory looked like it may be different and even a class higher than his usual films because of a respectable supporting cast that includes Guy Pearce and Monica Bellucci. Unfortunately the material just doesn’t stand out and this ends up feeling like yet another carbon copy of other films in the genre. Neeson’s character is supposed to be suffering from early signs of Alzheimer’s disease but this plot device is strangely not really fully exploited into the plot, even though the film’s title Memory sort of ties in with this circumstance. It is hard for an audience to root for a ruthless cold blooded hit man even though he displays compassion for the life of a young girl who happens to be the daughter of one of his kills. As if to make the killings for acceptable, he spends the rest of the movie killing the bad guys because they placed a kill order for him for refusing to carry out the kill of the child.
Neeson is portrayed here as an old man struggling to sustain his killer instincts with his occasional memory loss but yet still manages to outsmart everybody and kick ass when the occasions call for it. All this even when he is injured with a bullet wound! Neeson can be a decent action movie star given the chance to. But alas, there was only one brief scene where he gives us a glimmer of his killer moves, when he bangs the head of a guy who was harassing a woman, smack on the table top of bar. Wished he had more opportunity to show his stuff but alas, there were none apart from the gun waving sort of action, and kills which were uncompelling and uncreative.
Guy Pearce plays the detective who tries to solves the murders but he is always one step behind Neeson and just ends up looking like a failure. At least, Monica Bellucci manages to lend some air of sophistication in the few scenes that she has but her character is sadly under developed and one dimensional. The film could have had the opportunity to elevate itself from being mundane had the supporting characters been more interesting and less predictable.
Despite the multiple disappointments from Neeson’s recent films, I have to confess that I am still a fan and would always give his movies a watch. This is in the hope that one day, we would actually have a Neeson film that is exceptional and one that successfully utilize his massive talents in a plot that is unique and original. One can always hope, right?