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Memory movie

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Bob Hoose

Movie Review

Where did he put the keys? They should be here under the windshield visor. That’s where he always leaves them. He wouldn’t have taken them into the hospital with him. Would he? No, no. That would be crazy. Sloppy. Bad, bad, bad.

They’re not on the seat. Not in his pants pocket. In his shirt! Yes, he put them in his scrubs’ top pocket. That’s right, he was masquerading as an orderly this time. Hospital. Scrubs. Right.

He almost forced himself to retrace his steps back through the lobby and into the room where he garroted his mark’s throat. Blood everywhere. People walking by. Bad. That would have been an amateur mistake. He never makes those. Or … he didn’t.

But things are getting worse.

Alex Lewis has long known that the decline would happen. Alzheimer’s disease has hit his whole family this way. His older brother is little more than an empty … uh, just empty at this point. For Alex, it’s only been little things: a key, a picture, a word, a note. That’s why he’s taken to writing instructions and reminders on his own arm. But for some jobs, like Alex’s, you can’t be plagued with memory loss or the threat of a rubbed-off message.

Killers can’t be losing track of things. Not even keys. In this line of work, it won’t get you fired. It’ll get you dead.

He even tried to quit. But his handler talked him out of it. “Men like us, don’t retire,” he told Alex. But what do you do when you can’t remember the address, the name, the … thingamajig any longer? What then?

Just one more job. Make it a big one. And then he’ll have enough cash to hide himself away somewhere, maybe. He’ll have to leave what’s left of his brother behind. But, hey, soon enough he’ll probably forget him anyway.

Just one last, uh … whatchamacallit. Then he’ll be fine.[Note: Spoilers are contained in the following sections.]

Positive Elements

Alex’s next job changes everything, as he’s called upon to kill a teen girl who had been dragged into child prostitution by sex trafficking ring. Obviously, that’s not good. Alex, however, can’t force himself to follow through. But the girl is brutally murdered anyway by someone else. Alex, feeling that he’s close to losing everything anyway, takes it upon himself to hunt down those calling the shots. He also helps an FBI agent named Vincent Serra. Vincent had gone out of his way to help protect the abused girl—who was left homeless after a police sting went wrong.

Both men attempt to bring the powerbrokers behind the much larger trafficking operation to justice. Of course, their methods for doing so are much different. “We all have to die, Vincent. What’s important is what we do before we go,” Alex tells the FBI agent.

Amid a tainted justice system, we see very few good men and women. Vincent is one of a rare breed here.

Spiritual Elements

A Mexican detective wears six St. Mary medals around his neck to remind him of abused and murdered young women that he’s encountered in the course of a human trafficking case.

Someone says a prayer in Spanish and ends it with an affirmative “Amen.”

Sexual Content

We see several different women wearing open shirts or low-cut tops. One of them is in a formfitting swimsuit. Part of Vincent’s investigation into a sexual trafficking ring involves him paying, supposedly, to have sex with a man’s teen daughter. The girl undresses to a lightweight shift, but then discovers that Vincent is wearing a wire when she pulls open his shirt.

Later we see snapshots of that same teen girl being slapped by her father and a short video of her being tossed onto a bed by a shirtless older man. Later still, we see that same man at a yacht party. He strips off his clothes and lays face down on a bed and orders a different teen girl to get undressed. (She’s stopped from doing so.) The party also features an onboard hot tub packed with young women in bikinis.

A wife suspects her husband of an affair and demands he wash off the woman’s perfume. A woman openly flirts with Alex at a bar and later—after Alex slaps down a drunken man rudely hitting on her—the two end up in bed together. We see her in a cleavage-baring slip the next morning.

Violent Content

There’s quite a bit of brawling and death-dealing in this R-rated pic. Alex pounds away at several men in and out of the course of his job. He also breaks a man’s nose with a rifle butt. He batters another guy in a public restroom, smashing the man through a porcelain toilet. He slaps a drunk around at a hotel bar, slamming his head into the bar.

In another scene, Alex beats a killer mercilessly, slamming the man’s head and face into a car mirror and through a window. He then ties the bloodied man into the car and detonates a bomb on the vehicle’s undercarriage. We see him shoot several people in the head, up close and at a distance. He rips open a man’s gushing neck with a wire garrote.

In turn, Alex is also beaten badly by an angry police officer in a police interview. And the guy notes that he’ll take all afternoon to beat a confession out of him.

We’re shown pictures of two young boys with bruises all over their backs. A young girl is battered. We see her later with a bloody bullet hole in her forehead. A woman’s throat is slashed open by a man behind her, and the camera watches her bleed out. An innocent woman is shot in the throat by a gunman. Alex is shot in the side at one point and his shirt soon becomes soaked with blood. He opens his shirt, revealing the wound, then pours vodka on it and lights it afire to cauterize the laceration.

Someone tells a story about his wife getting hit by a drunk driver who then backs up to kill her son so there wouldn’t be any witnesses. A police sniper kills an innocent man. A man is riddled with bullets from police fire. Vincent tumbles out a second story window with an armed man who dies in the fall.

Crude or Profane Language

Some 40 f-words and a dozen s-words are joined by multiple uses of “a–hole” and “h—.” God’s and Jesus’ names are misused seven times total (with God’s name being combined with “d–n” once).

Drug and Alcohol Content

Both Alex and Vincent drink pretty heavily in several separate scenes. We see others drinking champagne, wine and booze at bars and at a yacht party. Vincent and a fellow female agent get drunk at a bar. A man and woman drink shots of tequila. A murder victim’s wife is visibly drunk during a police interview.

Two different guys smoke cigarettes.

Alex regularly takes a prescription medication designed to help his Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. A wealthy woman receives injections of a drug from her private physician. And a doctor moves to give someone a lethal injection before he’s stopped. We’re told of a man who was high on meth.

Other Negative Elements

This film declares that criminal organizations have corrupted many in the high seats of power in the U.S. criminal justice system (and in Washington, D.C.). We see several different people in authority corrupted by money and promises of power. And in the end, it’s suggested that murder may be the only way to solve that systemic disease.

Conclusion

Some might winkingly say that Liam Neeson is yet again playing a hero who has something, ahem, taken from him: this time his memory.

But that’s not accurate, really. In part, that’s because Neeson initially plays a true villain here, albeit someone with a conscience that’s starting to awaken. So when he’s not killing people in the film Memory, he’s straining to give heavy handed aid to the real hero before he loses himself to Alzheimer’s.

We’re shown child sex trafficking and gory murder in a crime-riddled world rotted to the core by graft and power. And it’s all part and parcel of a badly broken and horribly corrupted U.S. justice system.

Does that make for a stark social commentary? Maybe. But it also leaves you stewing in a fairly dark worldview. And no amount of orange soda and Gummy bears will make that depressing and often foul viewpoint any sweeter.

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Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.