Neesploitation strikes again (softly)
Liam Neeson will jawbone busting, frowning like a starving constipated coprophagous. Not so easy to write the pitch of a film carried by the one who played Oskar Schindler in another century without generate deja vu bugs in the Google matrix nor violate the copyright of the Blacklight, The Good Criminal and others Taken 16.
murderous memory was however not destined to join the sclerotic shores of the Neesploitation. Fairly faithful remake of the honest thriller La Memory of the killer directed in 2003 by Erik van Looy, himself taken from the novel The Alzheimer’s Case of the Belgian Jef Geeraerts, he was for a time associated with the names of Brian de Palma and Al Pacino with the prospect of reconstituting the winning duo of The Impasse and scarface.
Yes, I will be back at the Ehpad for the 6 p.m. soup, no problem
That the role of this hitman who finds himself in turmoil for refusing a contract – yes, as in night run – eventually fell to Neeson inevitably does impact on career choices of the latter for fifteen years, resolutely focused on the B series of increasingly devitalized castagne.
And if the prospect of seeing the good Liam sink to the dark side of weakness thrills you, beware of the stampede: despite a few executions hasty enough to amusethe man is as expected endowed with a solid moral code – don’t fuck with kids – which, however hypocritical, will soon make him about as viscerally menacing as a children’s librarian.
Obviously there remains the deadly fascination of observing the transformation of a creaking carcass into a traveling advertisement for geriatric exoskeletons, whose clumsy attempt at iconization sounds as natural as a hip prosthesis. The few hand-to-hand fights above all highlight the Buddhist phlegm of his opponents, to the point that one wonders if Neeson has not been discreetly replaced by a digitized alter ego whose stiffness betrays the artifice.
None of the extras in a coma were abused for the purposes of this scene.
The abyss is in order
The choice of Liam Neeson as headliner generates, however, almost by accident, a happy alchemy. Because the singularity of the pitch is to to confront his killer with the pangs of old age and memory loss. On this point, the actor perfectly takes up the torch of the touching Jan Decleir. That the film makes him start in a hospital gown, in a scene absent from the original, is at the limit of a meta wink.
And now this wobbly body, this consumed gaze, this face of cod crucified on a flat rock become the subject of the film and no longer its stumbling block. As if by magic, the litany ofactioners recently worn by the actor begins to work in the viewer’s unconscious in the service of his characterprecisely by the limits they let appear.
Do not then the vertigo of an abyss, with this old man who gradually loses the faculties to exercise what he excelled at and who, veiling his face, resorts to various expedients to deceive him. So that when the good Liam is captured in the beam of a torch, pale and confused, we are not far from thinking that he has just found the role of his (end of) life (professional). Next step: the meta trip à la Nicolas Cage or Jean-Claude Van Damme?
Neeson, nor submitted
Alas, the concept of this failing killer is only partially exploited. Depriving an assassin of his bearings could have led to a number of deliciously tense situations, by exacerbating in the same movement his dangerousness becoming uncontrollable and the compassion of the spectator.
Nay: his difficulties will come down to a handful of basic springs, based on lost tablets and clues to unearth from its capricious synapses. As for the way in which the hero tries to compensate for his omissions, it is reduced to a few gimmicks (the notes on the arm) that a certain Memento carried by… Guy Pearce brilliantly transcended twenty years ago. Nothing enough to refresh the cliche of the pro at the end of the line who wants to settle down to lead a simple life. This is also the limit of the mise en abyme: unlike his character, Liam Neeson has not smelled the blow too much and has already wallowed in it several times.
Who of the character or the actor runs after his stamps?
Memento (me) mory
To under-exploit what should be its major axis, the film is condemned to leave no memory, which is ironic given its theme and title. The presence of Martin Campbell behind the camera could augur a minimum of efficiency, this one having proven his ability to pack stimulating action sequences (The Mask of Zorro, Casino Royale…). Except that Green Lantern went through it and seems to have artistically destroyed it: the director has almost disappeared since and, to watch murderous memoryone comes to wonder if the loss is so great.
Between the unbalanced stakes molded in a pre-mâché humanismthe bingo of clichés and obligatory passages, the dialogues drawn from fortune cookies counterfeit, the shootings as attractive as the bottom of a chamber pot and the generic urban environment which, without going so far as to make Mexico a postcard, could at least have tried to derive a modicum of identity from it, everything is sorely lacking in relief.
Old. James Old.
There is not a directing idea, not a scene that is the least bit striking that tears the spectator away from his sweet torpor. Neither the overexploited motif of the assassin hunted down by his sponsors, nor the game of amorphous cat and computer mouse between cop and killer opposed-but-ultimately-not-so-different, colder than Heat, will not come to violate the thrilling. That the trigger, however highly anticipated, only happens halfway through the film, does not help matters.
Granted, the original wasn’t all about action, but trailer and Liam Neeson’s presence sell a remake that’s edgier than it is Actually. You can try a drinking game based on fermented plum stuck on the stuffing-pifs of the feature film without ending even tipsy.
And don’t count on the rest of the cast to raise the level, whether it’s a Guy Pearce made up as a lookalike of Josh Brolin in No country for old men or a Monica Bellucci whose main feat of arms will be to render, in her last scene, an homage as involuntary as it is hilarious to the Ian Holm ofeXistenZ.
Allegory of the place of women in film
In his defense, the first two female characters of the film are, literally, a mother and a “whore”, before a procession of appearances, whose extent of the neckline and the psychological thickness open up to their foreheads reversed, does not confirm the I don’t care of a writing bathed in prepubescent fantasies. Not especially enough to make you want to go beyond the union minimum…
Undoubtedly some amateurs who are particularly virgins of references in the matter will find a minimum of interest in it, like gourmets discovering the Big Mac through its Russian ersatz. As things stand, it will all the same seem very difficult to dissociate murderous memory of its innumerable clones, and we are not not certain to reach with delirious impatience the next link in the Neesploitation with his parkinsonian bedridden hero.
Murderous Memory is available since July 29, 2022 on Amazon Prime Video