Updated: May 31, 2022
Before I got extremely into film, Nolan was most likely my favorite director. Whenever I watch a film that I really admire and consider my favorite, I'll obsess over it and watch it repeatedly. I've seen The Third Man 11 times, The Night of the Hunter 5 times, 2001: A Space Odyssey 9 times, and Sherlock Jr. 7 times. But the few Nolan films that I've seen are probably the ones I watched the most. I grew up on the Dark Knight movies, watching them approximately a couple of times each year. Once Dunkirk came out on Blu-Ray and digital, I watched it over and over again. For a while, Nolan films were the only films I would watch, except for whatever new Marvel movie was out. I began to get more into film and lost interest in Nolan's filmography. But recently, I started to dive deep back into his catalog of films and decided to put The Prestige and Memento on my watchlist.
I went into this film knowing nothing about the contents of it. Considering myself a somewhat Nolan fan, my absent viewing of this film lingered over my head for months. I finally sat down to watch it after giving in to the level of praise and admiration it has received and came away with mixed feelings. To say the least, I don't think I would agree with most people on this film.
Memento's plot is all over the place so I won't even attempt to explain it in this review. Just know that it's basically a revenge story. That's the plot for 113 mins, nothing more, nothing less.
Memento boils down to Nolan just screwing around with time and continuity for 113 mins. Yes, that might be a pretty interesting idea on paper. But, once the film reaches the 30-minute mark, that's when it gets repetitive. The same thing happens over and over. The film doesn't seem to progress in any way, regardless of the messed up timeline. There's an objective in the film, but that's thrown together in the random marks in the film's timeline. If Nolan had just scrapped the idea of making this into a feature-length film and instead opted for a short film, then the result might've been better. The whole idea of a disrupted timeline seems like it would better suit a short film or something and not turn into a 113-minute long mess.
It seems like Nolan wants us to resonate with the main character in Memento, but it tremendously fails. He gives us his motives and back story that makes us somewhat resonate with him, and that's it. The script lacks the familiar and intriguing obstacles that the main character faces. Finding the killer of the main character's wife is pretty interesting and reminiscents of noirs of the past, but that's it. There are no gripping scenes leading up to the goal that makes us care for the outcome of the character. When comparing it to a film like Point Blank with plenty of suspense packed into every minute of the film, the result again is stale. Point Blank flows on a jumbled timeline as well, but that's not all that the film is about. That's why Point Blank is a classic and a masterpiece. Nolan just needed some tinkering of the film's actual plot to make it seem slightly or even majorly better.
The cinematography and direction are relatively mediocre. Nothing about either aspect really stands out as well crafted or great. Every shot and scene feels like something out of some stupid student film or made for TV film. It seems to lack the usual Nolan cinematography and direction that he's become so infamous for over the years. The composition consistently feels messed up and never comes across as anything impressive. The two things that I enjoy about this film are that it somewhat paved the way for the rest of Nolan's career and the timeline is an interesting concept in thought. Apart from those things the rest of the film resembles some crapped-out and hastily made film.
Time Stamp: December 2020