Liam Neeson at Storage.
Photo: STX Entertainment
Even those of us who generally enjoy Liam Neeson’s recent role as a tough guy sometimes forget that he can be a great player too. the latest, Storagedirected by action legend Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Zorro Mask), offers a useful reminder that Neeson kicking ass doesn’t mean Neeson is on autopilot. The film, a remake of the 2003 Belgian thriller film A Killer’s Memory, follows a hitman who suffers from early Alzheimer’s, but the elements of dementia are more of a narrative discovery than a serious exploration of a debilitating disease. (For that, you may want to take a look at Gaspar Noé’s vortex instead, it’s also out this week.) But Neeson, who had been a physically intense actor before he even started playing the man with special skills, conveys the character’s vulnerability, pain, and fear so well that he alters any plot elements. be something that actually moves.
When we first meet Alex Lewis (Neeson), he disguises himself as a nurse to brutally strangle a man visiting his sick mother in the hospital. Our heroes are not good people: Alex has spent his life killing people for money, often at the behest of gangsters operating in and around El Paso, Texas. But when he is given a job that involves targeting a young girl, he refuses to kill her. Was this the sign of humanity he had always had, or was this the new indecision caused by his condition? “You’re getting mushy,” says his boss, Mauricio (Lee Boardman), bitterly.
A larger conspiracy is underway, however. The girl, Beatriz (Mia Sanchez), is a victim of child trafficking, and a determined FBI agent, Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce, who also stars in memories 22 years ago, a film that Storage nodding occasionally), hoping he would be a witness to help him stop a massive human trafficking operation. The conspiracy, however, reaches the upper tiers of El Paso society, including the family of local businessman and philanthropist Davana Sealman (Monica Bellucci). While Serra and his partners, among them Hugo Marquez (Harold Torres) of Mexico’s intelligence agency, face legal snags and vice versa, Alex seems to be the only person who can cut through all that red tape—a lone wolf lethal with what’s at hand. now personal grudge and not much time left.
That produces an interesting confusion of loyalties that the film could possibly have done more; Serra and her crew are at a loss whether to try and stop Alex or let him work his killing machine magic. But overall, Storage The work isn’t so much as procedural — it’s a bit too simple to plot for it — as it does as a character study. Appreciate the actors, and director Campbell’s willingness to give them space. Neeson, in particular, is perfect for describing Alex’s growing vulnerability. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, haunted by shadows of people he may or may not have killed, his fear and confusion is overwhelming. Actors always have something to suffer; even the action movies are on a certain level about shame and regret and intense personal pain. But what was submerged in the previous films was only revealed this time. One scene where Alex burns gunshot wounds to his body with a bottle of liquor and a lighter is so excruciating that I would believe it if you told me Neeson actually set himself on fire.
There is an interesting side to the action too. Alex smashes heads and blows people away (not all bad guys either) with ruthless automatic efficiency, but it all feels reflexive, as if it’s been programmed into his muscle memory. That shows why he can continue to annoy people even when he seems to be losing his cognitive abilities. He had been killing for so long that it became as natural to him as breathing. It makes for an interesting contrast: On the one hand, we get incredibly effective and immersive violence — a genre spectacle at which Campbell has always excelled — and on the other, a very real tenderness and suffering that is quite rare in a film of this kind. Eventually, StoragePerhaps his greatest asset is that he knows exactly what it is—a delightful combination of underhanded action and shocking emotion. This is the best type of B film.