First-time writer-director Omar Naim's contemplative science-fiction parable unfolds in a vague, not-too-distant future in which Alan Hakman (Robin Williams) and his colleagues practice a brave new profession made possible by the Zoe Chip. Imagine, if you will, a teeny-tiny organic hard drive nestled in your brain, storing every memory and preserving them all for postmortem retrieval. Your whole life, from first breath to last gasp, is the ultimate reality-television show, hundreds of thousands of hours of raw footage waiting to be shaped and polished into an easily digestible narrative. Which is where the prim, buttoned-down Hakman and his fellow editors come in: They reduce messy, complicated lives to a series of upbeat Hallmark moments destined for cynically disingenuous "Re-Memory" ceremonies celebrating the dear departed. Hakman is known as one of the best in the business, the go-to guy for ugly jobs. His particular genius lies less in his cutting-room skills than in his accommodating attitude: Hakman has no qualms about whitewashing the lives of unrepentant scum. Naturally, he's haunted by a memory of his own (a natural one, since cutters are forbidden to have Zoe chips). As a 9-year-old, young Alan (Casey Dubois) urged another boy, Louis (Liam Ranger), to try a dangerous stunt that resulted in an apparently fatal tumble. To his lifelong shame, Alan fled the scene of the accident and told no one what had happened. So he becomes a man possessed when he glimpses someone who looks uncannily like a grown-up Louis lurking around the periphery of an especially loathsome client's recollections. Alan's quest to tease the truth from all-too-fallible memory plays out against the backdrop of anti-Zoe Chip protests; natural-remembrance activists who wear their cause in the form of belligerent tattoos; a radicalized ex-cutter (James Caviezel) on a mission, and some half-hearted corporate intrigue. To Naim's credit, this ambitious fable is light-years removed from the reductive robot-and-ray-gun school of science fiction. But it shamelessly recycles ideas explored in films as various as PEEPING TOM (1960), BLOWUP (1966), THE CONVERSATION (1974), BLADE RUNNER (1982) and STRANGE DAYS (1995) without significantly expanding on them; Naim instead buries them in a series of dreary subplots, notably Hakman's creepy romance with book-dealer Delila (Mira Sorvino). Naim's potential is evident, but his debut is a frustrating exercise in missed opportunities.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: First-time writer-director Omar Naim's contemplative science-fiction parable unfolds in a vague, not-too-distant future in which Alan Hakman (Robin Williams) and his colleagues practice a brave new profession made possible by the Zoe Chip. Imagine, if you… (more)