Memory is an action-mystery film directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), starring Liam Neeson, Guy Pearce, Monica Bellucci, Taj Atwal, Ray Fearon, Harold Torres and Ray Stevenson. It is based on a Belgian novel from 1985 called “De Zaak Alzheimer” by Jef Geeraerts, which was already adapted into a Belgian film from 2003 entitled “The Memory of a Killer”.
Alex (Neeson) is an expert assassin. He knows what he is doing and has been doing it for years. But when he goes against the rules and refuses to complete a job for a dangerous criminal organization, they turn against him. Suddenly, Alex is in the eyes of, not only the organization, but also the FBI and the Mexican intelligence service. Normally Alex would be able to handle the pressure, but when he starts struggling with severe memory loss, he starts to question himself and his abilities and he can not even trust himself?
The premise of memory is unique: a hired killer suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The story is complicated and takes some surprising turns, led by an assassin with his own set of morals. The perfect antihero. The addition of a crippling mental disorder gives a great sympathetic character.
Liam Neeson does a great job as Alex. He tugs at our heartstrings as he struggles to remember the smallest thing (“Where did I put my keys?”) To more important details (“Where was I last night?”). It’s amazing to see him stretch his acting chops in this new role that we’ve seen him in many times before. This is far from the assassin we are used to seeing from Neeson: the cold and driven sharpshooter who walks away at the end of the film with hardly a scratch on him. No, Alex’s making mistakes. He is vulnerable. He questions himself and is at times surprisingly ruthless.
Guy Pierce does an equally amazing job as the haunted FBI agent Vincent Serra. As any protagonist in Hollywood FBI agents should be, he is a hot head and passionate about specific cases because of his background and history.
Coincidentally, this hitman movie falls short in its execution. It’s by no means a slow motion. There is always something going on and it is important to pay close attention to the details that are sprinkled over. However, it seems like long lasting. Each of the scenes feels long-haired, though they are important.
There is a lot of promise in the plot and in the background of all the unique characters: the assassin with Alzheimer’s, the FBI agent with a mysterious past, the furious colleague, the insightful partner and the beautiful but evil brain. Unfortunately, most of these characters are not exploited to their full potential. This is a good movie, but not a great one. Unfortunately, Memory will not be a movie dedicated to everyone’s memory.