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movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Unforgettable

Starring: Ray Liotta, Linda Fiorentino
Director: John Dahl
Rated: R
RunTime: 111 Minutes
Release Date: February 2003
Genres: Action, Mystery, Suspense

*Also starring: Garwin Sanford, Peter Coyote, Christopher McDonald, David Paymer, Duncan Fraser, Kim Cattrall, Kim Coates, Caroline Elliott, Colleen Rennison

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

UNFORGETTABLE isn't. Although I was tempted to leave those two lines as the whole review, I will tell you more. Last year, usually excellent director John Dahl (THE LAST SEDUCTION and RED ROCK WEST) made a film about memory transferal. I did not see the film when it came out, unless I saw it and forgot it, but it is now available on pay per view where I think I saw it for the first time.

UNFORGETTABLE is a confused film that can't figure out what it wants to be. Sometimes the script by Bill Geddie thinks it wants to be a thriller, but other times it tries to be sci-fi flick. At its worst, it descends into a picture with horror show overtones. If the blood doesn't get to you, then the editing makes the film into such a whirl that you feel like you are on a roller coaster where various murders flash by your eyes in a dizzying collage.

The film opens with a gory crime scene. A local drugstore has been held up, and the killer has left bodies strewn everywhere. Medical examiner Dr. David Krane (Ray Liotta) arrives on the scene and finds a matchbook twisted in an obscure manner.

It seems that Dr. Krane was arrested years earlier for the murder of his wife. He got off at the trial on a technicality, but continues to claim he was innocent. At his wife's crime scene there was a similarly twisted matchbook so he becomes convinced that the two crimes are related. Detective Don Bresler (Peter Coyote) shows up and tells him to give it a rest since the matchbook proves nothing. All of the cops still think he did it.

One evening Dr. Krane goes to a medical society dinner where researcher Dr. Martha Briggs (Linda Fiorentino) is speaking. She tells of her experiments with mice where she can use certain bodily fluids to transfer memory from one mouse to another. Dr. Krane gets the idea he can use some of his wife's fluid conveniently stored in the morgue and transfer her memory to his and thereby find out the identity of her killer.

He does the transfer of her fluid as well as the fluid of one of the victim's of the drugstore crime. Each time, we have a horror movie sequence where he relives the crimes from the victim's eyes and body, and each time it weakens Dr. Krane's heart.

Will he die before finding out the killer? How many people's memory will he have to transfer to his before he can solve the mystery? And then there is the biggest question of all, since he has all of these memories firing up in his brain together, how can he keep them all straight? Yes, this is a movie that taxes your ability to suspend disbelief. It over taxed mine.

The single good line in the show occurs when Dr. Krane first tells Dr. Briggs that he has stolen and used her medicine, and it works on humans. She lectures him about how she does not yet understand the side-effects even on mice. He retorts, "I'm telling you your formula works, and you're talking to me about rats?"

If you manage to stay awake, you can solve the mystery in the first fifteen minutes of the show. They might as well have hung a sign around the guy that did it.

The acting is pretty shallow all-around. Ray Liotta does a by-the-numbers rendition of the devil's got my body routine. Peter Coyote barely moves a muscle in most of his scenes. Saddest of all is explosive actress Linda Fiorentino who has a meaningless part that doesn't give her a single decent line. What a waste. If you want to see her acting ability, rent THE LAST SEDUCTION where she should have at least been nominated for an Academy Award. Since THE LAST SEDUCTION was shown first, albeit briefly, on a cable channel, it was ruled ineligible for nomination.

Actually UNFORGETTABLE plays like a TV movie. Although it is kind of fun watching the mystery play out, my favorite part was the chemistry between the two doctors. It was not much, but in a lightweight show like this, you enjoy what you can.

The standard thriller music by Christopher Young has the obligatory long violin notes to help put you in the mood. Sad to say, there isn't much more than mood.

UNFORGETTABLE runs too long at 1:57 for such a transparent mystery. It is rated R for language and violence. Teenagers not prone to nightmares should be able to handle it, but I don't see why they'd bother. I give it a thumbs down and award it * 1/2.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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