Neeson gives unforgettable performance in generic ‘Memory’
If you had a mind to, you could imagine the last 14 years of Liam Neeson’s career as one role with many faces. The man with a particular set of skills whose gravelled threats over the phone somehow make his bark worse than his already deadly bite. Whether he’s playing a reformed bank robber, a former FBI agent, or in the case of Memory, a contract killer, they’re all defined by his penchant for violence, a heart of gold, and this time, a fading mind.
Memory sees Neeson refusing an order to take the life of a young girl and hunting the very people who hired him – all the while being plagued by a faltering memory. Not only that, he’s got to evade the cunning detectives hot on his trail led by Guy Pearce as Special Agent Vincent Serra.
Neeson’s brand of justice is treated as a necessary evil. A Punisher-esque pursuit, doling out vengeance on behalf of those the justice system would sooner leave behind. The police are left in a moral quandary, with Guy Pearce contemplating his actions with a constant frown and an inconsistent Texan accent.
It’s all par for the course for Neeson. He blazes his way through impossible obstacles, and in the hands of Martin Campbell, those scenes are admittedly compelling. The swift action is a godsend, serving as a refreshing jolt for anyone nodding off from the slow-burn thriller.
As an action movie, Memory is pretty generic. Yet as a footnote on this aspect of Neeson’s career, it’s quite the send-off. The aged man of malice finally meets an enemy he can’t take down. As invincible as he’s seemed since his Taken tour de force, Memory imbues him with vulnerability. For that, Alex Lewis is one of the most compelling characters Neeson has played in a while, giving one of his best performances in an action movie.
As Neeson’s final fight film, it’s a poignant send-off. On its own, it’s yet another Liam Neeson action movie, with all the thrills you can enjoy and all the pitfalls you can happily ignore.
Rating: Catch It On Cable
Damian Levy is a film critic and podcaster for Damian Michael Movies.