The Curator of Schlock #398 by Jeff Shuster

Memory

That’s your movie title? You’re not even trying!

Where was I? Oh, I was undercover at a bowling alley, trying to buy some fentanyl from a drug-pusher named Gary. 

“Where’s the money? I don’t have all day.” Gary said as he lifted up a turquoise bowling ball. Suddenly, a look of terror spread across his face. Out of the shadows walked the Revenging Manta, the vigilante ninja of downtown Orlando. 

“You!” Gary screamed before hurling the bowling ball at the masked avenger. The Revenging Manta caught the ball and threw it right back at Gary. The ball struck Gary’s head with tremendous force. His cranium exploded, bloody chunks of flesh flying everywhere. A crimson geyser sprayed from his neck as the headless body stumbled around for a bit. — To be continued.

_______

This week’s movie is 2022’s Memory from director Martin Campbell. And it stars Liam Neeson as a hardened assassin out for vengeance. In these turbulent times, my cinematic comfort food usually revolves around aging leading men such Gerard Butler, Denzel Washington or Liam Neeson playing a character with a “certain set of skills” that gets pushed too far and unleashes holy hell on the bad guys. He makes them suffer and the audience  enjoys seeing them suffer. Everyone leaves the theater happy.

Or that would be the case if the trailer wasn’t a lie. When watching the trailer for Memory, we’re introduced to Liam Neeson who refers to himself as “the bad man.” He’s an unstoppable assassin, the best of the best. And then he gets an assignment that he will not do. He will not kill a child. And then you, the audience member, thinks, “Well, he may be a merciless assassin, but at least he doesn’t kill children.” Maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all.

We then see him taking out the bad guys, tipping off the cops to what he’s doing. The main detective is played by Guy Pearce. Neeson’s assassin states that he can’t keep doing his job for him, that these traffickers have to pay for what they do to children. We learn that Neeson’s assassin has some memory issues and can’t always remember where he was the night before. Maybe he’s not who he thinks he is. The trailer promises a competent action thriller from the director of the James Bond films Goldeneye and Casino Royale. Okay. I’m sold.

And then I watch the actual movie and am sorely disappointed. For starters, Neeson feels more like a supporting character than the lead. I guess that honor goes to Guy Pearce who’s looking a bit beaten down by life if I have to be honest. Maybe they dressed him down for the role of Vincent Serra, head of an investigation into child sex trafficking in El Paso. We see him trying to catch a guy pimping out his own underage daughter, but ends up killing the father in a tussle. Vincent asks the girl to give testimony against the cartels. Otherwise, she’ll be kicked back to Mexico. Her situation makes me depressed.

Then we have Alex Lewis (Liam Neeson), a contract killer in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. Alex visits his brother in a senior center and his brother stares at him with vacant eyes, a grim reminder of Alex’s own fate. By the end of the movie, Alex is just a befuddled old man, barely able to string a sentence together as he bleeds from his wounds. This isn’t what I want to see. Where is Neeson kicking ass? A couple months ago I was watching Neeson throw a guy from a moving train into the path of an oncoming moving train. 

It seems this movie is a remake of the Belgian movie, The Alzheimer Case. Apparently, that movie holds an 84% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes while this one remains at 28%. Maybe I should check out the original.

_______

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477episode 491episode 492, episode 493episode 495episode 496, episode 545, episode 546, episode 547, episode 548, and episode 549) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.