‘Reminiscence’ review: Hugh Jackman stars in forgettable sci-fi flick

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Hugh Jackman’s new science fiction movie, “Reminiscence,” is a bizarro “Minority Report.” 

While the 2002 film had Tom Cruise play a detective who used a trio of psychics to predict crimes that were about to be committed in the future, Jackman’s character explores people’s memories to investigate a disappearance from the past.

But while “Minority Report” was a very enjoyable movie, “Reminiscence” — in theaters on Friday and streaming on HBO Max — is a burdensome slog.


movie review

Running time: 114 minutes. Rated PG-13 (strong violence, drug material throughout, sexual content and some strong language). In theaters and on HBO Max.

This wannabe works oh so hard to be a contemporary detective noir, with its shadows, damsel in distress and brooding narration. But it never finds the suspense or sensuality of that genre. 

“Truth is — nothing is more addictive than the past,” Jackman’s character, Nick Bannister, says at the beginning. All the dialogue sounds like a cabbie reading aloud “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” 

Nick, our gateway to the hippocampus, is a former interrogator who now operates a reminiscence machine that, for a price, allows a person to relive a cherished experience.

But the device has other, more practical uses. One fateful day, a well-dressed ginger woman walks into Nick’s business and says she needs help finding her lost keys. 

Smitten, he guides Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) back through her day as he falls madly in love with her.

We, however, do not. Ferguson’s explosive career success is positively baffling. She is routinely monotonous and genteel, and thus, forgettable. Cold. Here, she’s practically the Borg Queen from “Star Trek.” This is who our hero is going to obsess over for the better part of two hours? 

Rebecca Ferguson and Hugh Jackman play lovers in “Reminiscence.”
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

Yup. They start dating and engage in such tautly written exchanges as this one.

“Tell me a story. One with a happy ending,” says Mae.

Nick replies: “There’s no such thing as a happy ending. All endings are sad.”

Real pair of brainiacs over here.

Out of nowhere, Mae disappears without a trace. She gives no warning to Nick and doesn’t leave a note, so he insists there was foul play involved. They were in love — why would she leave? He revisits his own memories obsessively looking for the smallest of clues as to where she went and why. 

Hugh Jackman plays Nick, a man who can unlock a person's memories in the future, in "Reminiscence."
Hugh Jackman plays Nick, a man who can unlock a person’s memories, in “Reminiscence.”
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

“Reminiscence” appears to be an intimate, old-school science-fiction film, but every so often there will be an incredibly violent shootout . . . to jar us awake, I suppose. 

Nick’s assistant is a world-weary woman named Watts (Thandiwe Newton), who can shoot a gun like James Bond because she served in “the war” that we learn jack squat about. The gifted Newton is the most engaging of the three main characters, though. It says a lot that a supporting character is more mysterious than the actual mystery of the plot.

Writer-director Lisa Joy’s futuristic film tries do a gazillion things at once, so it also tacks on an environmental message. The city of Miami is half underwater, so citizens walk through marshy sidewalks and sometimes use speedboats instead of cars. It’s so hot during the day that the Miamians have become nocturnal. And yet the clothes they wear look like they were purchased in 2002. 

Jackman, as expected, does a fine job. He’s always an amiable leading man, no matter what he’s handed. But after “Reminiscence,” you’ll wish he had been handed “Logan 2.”

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