Memory (DVD Review)29 Apr, 2007 By: John Latchem
Prebook 5/1/07; Street 5/22/07
Rated ‘R' for language and frightening images.
Stars Billy Zane, Tricia Helfer, Ann-Margret, Dennis Hopper.
Bennett Davlin's Memory, based on his novel, works best in its quieter moments that establish the bonds between the various characters.
Hopper steals every scene he is in, as few of them as there are, and it's nice to see Helfer stretch her legs a bit beyond her role as a Cylon on “Battlestar Galactica.”
However, some witty dialogue and charming performances are ultimately wasted in service of a psychological thriller built on an outlandish premise.
While lecturing in Brazil about Alzheimer's, Dr. Taylor Briggs (Zane) is asked to consult on a near-dead patient who was attacked by a local tribe for stealing a ritual powder from them. It turns out the substance is a hallucinogen, and Briggs manages to absorb some of it. He starts having visions of someone running through the woods who may have kidnapped little girls 30 years ago to make plaster masks of their faces.
According to tribal legend, the powder bestows memories of the user's ancestors. Briggs concludes that the powder triggers latent memories that are passed to offspring genetically through junk DNA. Briggs learns the kidnapper is still alive and hopes to rescue the latest victim.
Given the near-impossible logistics of genetic memory, it's a stretch to believe the neurologist Briggs would accept the idea so casually. But this is a movie that specializes in carefully setting up the extremely contrived situations it needs to move the plot forward.
For example, a seemingly extraneous early scene establishes Briggs making a to-do list to remind himself to pick up scuba gear for some reason, just so he would have it later in the movie at a key moment.
Briggs expectedly uncovers secrets about his past, and despite its contrivances, the movie has just enough juice to keep viewers interested before ending with a twist most will detect from a mile away.