"Reminiscence" is set in the not-so-near future, in a climate changed Miami that looks more like Venice. People get around in boats and are nocturnal because it's too hot to function during the day. Jackman runs a service adapted from recent war tactics that allows you to re-experience lost memories by immersing into a water tank, your brain hooked up to wires and computers.
Who should walk in for a little memory jog but a femme fatale played by Rebecca Ferguson (Jackman's "The Greatest Showman" co-star). He becomes obsessed with her. When she disappears, his search leads him through a dark crime world, as he realizes her love might not be as pure as he thought.
"Reminiscence" is written and directed by "Westworld" co-creator Lisa Joy. It's her first film, and she tries to pack in everything. The result? Nothing sticks.
Jackman and Ferguson's relationship feels more familiar than passionate. ("Westworld' star Thandie Newton plays Jackman's co-worker and fellow war veteran. You wish there were more of her.) Endless narration, especially off the top, is meant to set a noir mood but comes off as cliché. Talks go to border wars and land barons and inheritance. It's all a bit much. Bottom line: the water's murky.
(Warner Bros. Running Time 1 hr. 56 mins. Rated PG-13. In theaters and streaming on HBO Max.)
If you want someone to play a contract killer in Hollywood, just dial Maggie Q! In "The Protégé'," her character makes a living as a skilled assassin, and she learned from the best: a guy named Moody, played by Samuel L. Jackson.
He rescued Anna from Vietnam as a girl and has become a father figure to her. Together they work to take down the worse kinds of bad guys until fate breaks them up. Anna is now vengeful and on her own. But a mystery man in Michael Keaton keeps popping up, and that's where it gets fun.
Maggie Q is at a point in her career where she can pick and choose and lead a movie, and she does under the direction of Martin Campbell (who's done a couple of recent Bond films). She kicks you-know-what, but her character is layered, especially when she returns to Vietnam to face ghosts from the past. She has a great fight scene with Keaton, but their verbal sparring makes it sizzle. There's no mandate the next 007 has to be a man. Just saying!
(Lionsgate. Running Time 1 hr 49 mins. Rated R. In theaters only.)
THE NIGHT HOUSE
"The Night House" is the best of the bunch this week, and it's thanks to the commanding and very real performance of Rebecca Hall.
We meet young teacher, Beth, as she mourns the loss of her architect husband. Turns out, he took his own life, and he isn't done saying his goodbyes! The night of his funeral, he decides to haunt his widow as she stays alone (of course) at the beautiful lake house he designed. Through the course of several nights, there are bloody footprints, knocks at the door, writing on the window, the stereo turns itself on, then later come actual apparitions. A cryptic suicide note is no help, so she looks for any clues her troubled hubby left behind. She discovers he may have led a second life of infidelity - maybe even worse.
This movie is what I'd call sophisticated suspense. There are times you'll jump in your seat, but the scares are all organic to the story. When things start unraveling toward the end, you might question why director David Bruckner went there, but you'll have goosebumps as you do. This is a good one!
(Searchlight Pictures. Running Time 1 hr 48 mins. Rated R. In theaters only.)
PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE
And who can resist those cute pups from "Paw Patrol!" Now, the popular TV series is a feature film. A new canine character, voiced by North Texan and "Black-ish" star Marsai Martin, alerts the patrol that Adventure City's new mayor is up to no good, (plus, he's a cat lover - please!) and it's pups to the rescue!
The doggies are precious, the animation adequate, and they lined up great voice talent. In addition to Martin, who's perfect, there's Dax Shepard, Jimmy Kimmel, Tyler Perry and Kim Kardashian.
Face it, the townspeople aren't the only ones rescued. Parents of young kiddos, you have a delightful 90 minute babysitter, or I should say, a litter of them!
(Paramount Pictures. Running Time 1 hr. 28 mins. Rated G. In theaters and streaming on Paramount+.)