Proving that the roles in geriatric action films shouldn’t solely be reserved for menopausal men in their 50s & 60s, Christopher Plummer brings both emotion and energy to Atom Egoyan’s Remember, a film that is otherwise completely bereft of such qualities.
Plummer plays Zev, an Auschwitz survivor now living in America and suffering from Alzheimer’s. However, having discovered that Rudy Kurlander, the Nazi commandant who murdered his family and that of his best friend Max (Martin Landau), is also alive and residing in the States under an assumed identity, Zev sets off on a vengeful mission to hunt down and kill him.
Plummer is punchy in the lead role, instilling pressure and poignancy into a thriller that is, for the most part, frumpy and far-fetched. Particularly grating is the decision on the part of casting director-cum-writer Benjamin August to use Zev’s dementia as a plot device. It’s a crass misjudgement that sits uncomfortably within the narrative’s pulpy milieu. And is clearly included in the hope that it evokes memories of Christopher Nolan’s magnificent Memento, but mainly serves as a reminder that you could indeed be watching that film instead.As Zev heads off to pursue the four different men who fit Kurlander’s description, August’s script starts to simply stumble heavily from one scene to the next. Along the way Zev meets a whole host of impossibly friendly US residents and a few exasperatingly exuberant children, who are all more than happy to help give this man, who’s clearly lost and confused, a gentle nudge in the right direction. Or alternatively in the case of one woman, sit and discuss great German composers with him just long enough for the film’s pace to slow to that of a snail’s.
Egoyan, who based on this evidence is destined to spend all eternity making tedious and trashy thrillers, directs with bumbling boredom that does little to heighten the tension. There are a couple of mildly intense sequences early on, but the closest Remember comes to a truly thrilling moment is towards the end, when Zev finds himself cornered in the house of an aggressively anti-semitic state trooper. And even that’s weakened by an excessively brawny and brash performance by Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris.
It’ll come as no surprise for you to discover that Egoyan and August conclude with a big, game-changing twist, although its predictability may leave you a little nonplussed. Plummer handles the revelation, as he does the whole film, with force, but that’s not enough to stop Remember from being a film you’ll want to forget in a hurry.