Review: Christopher Plummer masterful, poignant in revenge thriller 'Remember'
The dramatic thriller "Remember" (expanding to additional select cities April 1) sounds better on paper than what the final product delivers. While this is a great Christopher Plummer showcase, its predictable arc and methodical pacing undermine what is, at times, a very effective revenge story.
In short: Elderly dementia patient and Holocaust survivor Zev Guttman (Plummer) leaves his nursing home to find and kill the man responsible for killing his family during World War II. Dean Norris, Henry Czerny and Martin Landau also star. (Watch the trailer)
First and foremost, Plummer is in top form as the grimly-focused widower intent on murderous revenge who can also suddenly become quite vulnerable when Zev's memory fails him. Plummer deftly explores the emotional spectrum between heartbroken resolve and elderly fragility -- but it's the heartbreaking moments where Zev has to relive the realization that his wife has died that hit the hardest. "Remember" combines hints of "Memento" with a solemn Holocaust revenge story.
Although Plummer is remarkable, the rest of the film is not so noteworthy. Predictability is one of the chief flaws of "Remember." The film establishes Zev must track down four men who had the same name of his concentration camp tormentor -- so of course the film goes out of its way to ensure Zev has to track all four men. While an obvious narrative structure, it also defuses much of the inherent tension during the early parts of his journey.
"Remember" clearly establishes the greatest threat to Zev's mission - his failing memory - but this film is much more timid when it comes to the other possible roadblocks. Zev is a 90-year-old dementia patient armed with a handgun and criss-crossing North America alone by way of bus and train -- a thousand things could completely derail his mission. "Remember" occasionally goes out of its way to present several threats ... but the movie defuses these threats almost as quickly as they are introduced. Yes, they momentarily ratchet up the tension, but they these thin plot points come and go too quickly to make the impact they should.
Final verdict: Plummer's performance is strong enough to elevate an otherwise predictable and perfunctory thriller. A plot structure rife with story cheats and underdeveloped narrative twists/turns undermines a thoughtful performance and intriguing premise.
"Remember" expands to select cities nationwide April 1. This film has a running time of 105 minutes is rated R for a sequence of violence and language.