Onstage, Hugh Jackman is electrifying. On the display screen, he’s simply one other fairly face rendered mediocre in a maelstrom of Hollywood hokum. Whether or not he’s singing and dancing like a mind-blowing mixture of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in sold-out one-man Broadway musicals or enchanting his followers as Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz, he has by no means been something lower than dazzling. In motion pictures that criminally waste his distinctive skills, he’s by no means achieved the identical standing. The turgid, hopelessly misguided Memory is an ideal instance of what I imply. This film is so dangerous that asking Hugh Jackman to lift it to a better stage is like asking Pavarotti to sing “Mairzy Doats.”
He performs Nick Bannister, a “non-public investigator of the thoughts” (no matter meaning) in an apocalyptic futuristic Miami whose shoppers search recollections of the previous by permitting him to stab them within the neck with hypodermic needles after which submerge them in a tank of water carrying a headset and jolted with electrical energy that sends them again in time whereas he spouts probably the most pretentious voice-over narration in years. “Reminiscences,” he warns, “— even the great ones — have a voracious urge for food. They’ll eat you.” His favourite philosophical catchphrase, which he repeats usually in case you must neglect it, is about how moments in recollections “are beads within the necklace of time.” Ouch.
One night time after closing, a fairly lady who can’t act (Rebecca Ferguson) persuades Nick and his alcoholic assistant (a wasted Thandie Newton) to dunk her within the tank. Her identify is Mae, and she or he says she wants the process as a result of she will be able to’t discover her automobile keys. (Huh?) Within the scene she conjures, she wears a purple costume minimize as much as the final level the censors will permit and sings “The place or When” by Rodgers and Hart. Nick turns into obsessed, however she vanishes earlier than he can ask for a second refrain.
So he spends practically two hours of runtime making an attempt to get her again. He grows haggard and dissipated, haunted by recollections of his personal, and begins spending his time within the water tank himself. It’s by no means clear what his work is, nevertheless it’s someway of worth to the D.A., who solves crimes by the clues that present up within the minds of Nick’s sufferers. Nick stalks Mae to New Orleans, which seems to be like an alien planet, and a mess of characters emerge, not certainly one of whom has any connection to one another or something resembling a coherent plot.
This isn’t a New Orleans you possibly can discover on any map, however Nick finds Mae there anyway, surrounded by crooked cops, waterfront rats, drug sellers and various killers of each dimension. A lot mayhem and homicide ensues, and — you guessed it — Mae sings “The place Or When” yet again. It slogs on, piling on scenes and recollections of each sci-fi epic and movie noir from Blade Runner to Chinatown, however who cares? The corny script and the static path are each by Lisa Pleasure from the TV present Westworld. That is her first function movie. It most likely received’t be her final, however hope springs everlasting.
Loyal Hugh Jackman followers ought to exhibit endurance in keen anticipation of his forthcoming Broadway musical revival of The Music Man. I can’t wait to see what he does as Prof. Harold Hill, main a parade down the aisle singing “76 Trombones.” In the meantime, he ought to erase from his personal reminiscence anybody and everybody who suggested him to look in Memory.
Observer Opinions are common assessments of recent and noteworthy cinema.