REVIEW: ‘Memory’ is solid matinee action cinema

Wow, two Liam Neeson action movies in less than three months. Fortunately, “Memory” is a better film than February’s “Blacklight.”

In “Memory,” Neeson plays Alex Lewis, a hitman for organized crime who almost always gets the job done. However, his latest job involves killing a child, something he refuses to do.

Meanwhile, Guy Pearce portrays an FBI agent named Vincent who’s investigating a trafficking operation. It turns out the girl Alex was supposed to kill was involved in the trafficking operation and those who run it are now after the hitman to bring him down for not going through with the task.

“Memory,” is a Neeson action film entry with just enough intrigue to make it a satisfying thriller. This is partly thanks to Neeson’s character being a man who’s rather vulnerable and makes plenty of mistakes, rather than a one-man-army hero going after bad guys for an hour and a half.

Much of this stems from Alex beginning to experience Alzheimer’s disease. The character knows he doesn’t have much time left and that he didn’t do good in life, so he’s all in on trying to do some right things while he’s still able to. The disease takes its toll, though, making his efforts more difficult.

The film’s sub plot related to human trafficking, which is connected to U.S.-Mexico relations with law enforcement from both countries working together on the case, gives the film even more dramatic weight. As a result, “Memory” as a whole is a rather heavy action thriller, where a viewer isn’t just entertained, but becomes engaged with the politics at play, too.

Courtesy Black Bear Pictures, Open Road Films and STX Entertainment.

What makes most of the Neeson action films work is when there’s more going on than just his character alone. It’s been the case with films like “The Grey” and “Cold Pursuit,” and that’s the case here.

Following the FBI unit with Vincent and Mexican investigator Hugo (Harold Torres) adds another layer of intrigue to the film. There’s an interesting dynamic, where the law enforcement agents are struggling to make progress because of the system, while Alex is acting outside the law which is problematic in its own right.

The movie has a bleak lens, showing corruption in police and difficulties in international cooperation on top of its guilt-ridden, unwell lead character. The serious subject matter is handled well and makes it easier to get invested in the film.

This isn’t to say “Memory” is a groundbreaking picture with social commentary that cuts real deep. It’s not the type of thriller that’s transformative because of its subject matter. Plus, the film has some predictable moments and the script is fairly pedestrian.

However, for a standalone crime action picture, “Memory” works alright. The film is an entertaining, dark, brooding and interesting movie to watch. It’s not a top tier genre entry, but it’s great for a matinee screening. 3.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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