- Starring: Liam Neeson, Guy Pearce
- Directed by: Martin Campbell
- Rating: R
- Running Time: 1 hr 54 mins
- Open Road Films
Liam Neeson’s long career was reinvented in 2008 with the thriller “Taken.” Fifty-six years old at the time of its release, Leeson went on to play in numerous action films including “Cold Pursuit,” “The Grey,” “The Commuter” and, of course, two more “Taken” flicks just to name a few. Now at the age of 69, Neeson stars in yet another action film titled “Memory,” which is about an aging hitman struggling with the onset of dementia. Initially a discombobulated story, “Memory” remains at least interesting throughout simply to watch Neeson navigate his tough guy character through the struggles of a losing war against an unstoppable enemy.
A remake of the 2003 Belgian film “The Memory of a Killer,” “Memory” introduces us to hitman Alex Lewis (Neeson) when he eliminates one of the many targets of his career. Already forgetting small things, which forces him to write notes on his arm as reminders, Alex lets a colleague know that he wants out. Begrudgingly, he accepts a contract that takes him to El Paso, Texas. After he completes his first task, Alex refuses to proceed further when he discovers his second target is a young girl and that she is the victim of a sex trafficking ring. At this point, Alex decides to take justice into his own hands.
Meanwhile, an F.B.I. task force led by Special Agent Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce) is investigating a sex trafficking operation with the assistance of a law enforcement liaison from Mexico, Det. Hugo Marquez (Harold Torres). Serra’s investigation is upended when a sting goes wrong, but a series of killings by an unknown hitman causes his superior to force him to assist local law enforcement with the case. Somehow, Serra and his team are always one step behind Alex, a man you may recall who has dementia. Needless to say, the F.B.I. and police look like Keystone Cops at times. It all leads to a crescendo of violence and “ah-ha” moments that do not take your breath away.
Director Martin Campbell has a history of either making a hit (“Casino Royale”) or a dud (“Green Lantern”), and “Memory” is more on the dud side of the equation. The story is often like a bunch of jigsaw pieces that have been tossed up in the air, the pacing is all over the place, and more focus should have been placed on Neeson’s character. The script is so poor, that Pearce’s Serra and the other supporting F.B.I. characters are irritating distractions without much substance beyond cliches. James Bond alum Monica Bellucci has proven in the past to have the ability to chew up a scene with her skill, but her antagonist character is so badly developed that her performance is sadly underwhelming.
Overall, while Neeson has some good moments on the screen, “Memory” is a film that you may want to forget about after seeing.