“Nick Bannister, a private investigator of the mind, navigates the alluring world of the past when his life is changed by new client Mae. A simple case becomes an obsession after she disappears and he fights to learn the truth about her.”

Director: Lisa Joy
Writer: Lisa Joy
Staring: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis
Release Date: August 20, 2021

Reminiscene (2021) is the movie directorial and writing debut of Lisa Joy, who is most known for her work on HBO’s heavily watched but often maligned Westworld. It is is remarkable many of the same positives and negatives viewing experiences share. There is exiting world building, interesting visuals and a deep meta thought that protrudes throughout the entire story. But then there is the inconsistent acting, the over-dramatic yet still sometime stale writing and lack of true story or villain to latch onto.

Reminiscene is an entertaining science-fiction story that thrives for some Blade Runner (1982) depressed hero seeking answers that will crumble hime vibe, but it never reaches the same ethos. In the end, the viewer is wanting more in too many areas. There are enough holes in this sieve to flood any aspirations of a memorable venture. We will not be reliving nostalgia memories of watching Reminiscene.

Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackson) is a former soldier and now private investigator in the drowning streets of Miami. Bannister’s profession involves delving into the memories of people and extracting the necessary information. When a young women by the name of Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) asking for help. he is more than happy to accommodate her late request for help.

Bannister falls hard for Mae, and the pair have a relationship (that is only seen through flashbacks) but it ends without warning when Mae disappears. The sudden vanishing of his lover sends Bannister into a tale spin searching for answers as to why. In a classic depressingly detective story way, Bannister discovers the truth, but to his own self-detriment. In the end Bannister has to come to grips with the details laid in front of him all while trying to handle the crime web he has uncovered.

There are some pitfalls in the story, but credit to Lisa Joy for addressing a rather large idea that many can relate to. The power of nostalgia is a dangerous thing, and as things get bleaker and bleaker in present time, the only thing people want to do is go back to a time when they were happy.

“Nothing is more addictive than the past. Who wouldn’t want to be reunited with a loved one? Or relive the most meaningful moments of their life? But memories, even good ones, have a voracious appetite. If you’re not careful, they consume you.”

Robert Bannister

This is an example of the good writing that Lisa Joy can deliver. The message that this movie is delivering can be profound and deep, but the vibes of the performances do not fit the pessimistic tone that this message means for society. Everyone we see get into the memory tanks is dealing with a tormented present of some variety. The depressing nature of society and desire to go back and see better times is not conveyed with enough misery. Get my some Perry Mason dark thoughts protruding out of this adventure.

What the hell was the point of the Sylvan plot? The class storyline in Reminiscene gets sopped down to unexciting drivel with all the focus on Bannister and Mae’s love story. Sebastian Sylvan (Mojean Aria) is confronted by Bannister in the final act of the movie and viewers may have to pause the movie just to remember what story they are attempting to wrap up. In the final minutes we see a city in upheaval, revolting against some injustice that is not given enough exposition or thought.

I have to say, this performance of Hugh Jackman is one the least impressive I have seen from his catalogue. The last thing I saw Jackman in that was this uninspiring was Van Helsing in 2004, but I think I would rather watch that fantasy action flop than this science-fiction disappointment. Van Helsing at least knew what it was and everyone was in the same type of movie.

When the trailer for Reminiscene dropped, I wrote about my excitement for Rebecca Ferguson. In a movie that needed performances to uplift it, Ferguson was perfectly fine as Mae. She had the whole lovely lady needing help from drudging man noir vibe down pat, but her character is hindered because we see her mainly through flashbacks. We see only the important timeline moments in her life, but there is no growth between those events. Her character actor jumps from lily pad to lily pad rather than swimming; we don’t see the journey or thought process heading to each decision.

I am still all aboard the Ferguson train. Reminiscene is going to be a blimp in the radar when you compare it too Doctor Sleep (2019), Dune (2021), Mission Impossible 7 (2022), Mission Impossible 8 (2023) and Dune: Part Two (2023).

The best acting in Reminiscene comes from Thandiwe Newton playing Bannister’s friend Emily “Watts” Sanders. Wonder if this comes from the connection they have with Westworld? Also credit to Daniel Wu for hamming it up as the New Orleans gang leader Saint Joe. He, with his whole leg up on the arm rest vibe, is part of the best action scene in the movie with the aforementioned Watts.

Reminiscene is has all the potential of a great open world video game. The world, in the most vague sense, is exciting to look at and imagine. There is backstory to the apocalyptic world involving war, and the current climate is said to be as tumultuous as the ocean waves banging up agains the dams and walls. There are multiple storylines and it is easy to imagine walking through the streaming streets and picking up side quests. I am stating that Reminiscene would be better as a massive open-world adventure. It would allow more flushing out of the story and all aspects of it; not just the love story but also the baron class warfare. It would allow for more flushed out antagonists with the story being more drawn out. We would see more of the rundown lower tier societies.

This movie would last in your memory banks for very long. Reminiscene is an exercise in a grand attempt at a grand message that drowns under its own vision and story.

STANKO RATING: C- (2.0/5 Stars)


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