A number of Belgians have achieved success with their films in Hollywood, but not many of our films have been remade. The Loft case is a painful one and that’s why Erik Van Looy is now not taking over the American version of De Zaak Alzheimer’s himself. So we’re looking forward to what Memory , as the film now calls it, will do. Therefore, the film can live very well, but not use it to its fullest.
DZA goes to USA
Alex Lewis (Liam Neeson) is a hit man for the strong men and doesn’t shy away from things. For a new job, he must return to his hometown of El Paso, where he has a number of ties to the past. FBO agent Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce, Memento, Iron Man 3) and his team tackle the case of a Mexican girl, Beatriz, who was exploited by her father.
When Alex is ordered to kill Beatriz, he turns away from his duties and tries to shut down the entire network. This puts him in Vincent’s path, making them dependent on each other. Only time matters here as Alex is starting to forget more and more. He is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Before I start this review, I definitely want to take another look at De Zaak Alzheimer’s. That was a while ago and you always want to be able to compare with remake, especially with the sixth-highest-grossing Belgian film of all time. The most important thing which is somewhat transferable is of course the screenplay, at the time by Erik Van Looy and Carl Joos. It’s immediately surprising how much of main line writer Dario Scardapane (The Punisher) is left in Memory. Of course in terms of structure, but also in terms of dialogue, some scenes are taken literally.
But other elements are impossible to maintain. The entire conflict between the gendarmerie and the judicial police is an important theme in De Zaak Alzheimer’s. Scarpadane solved it by making comparisons between the local police and the FBI in the US. The DZA was regulated in 1995, and thus capitalized on the Dutroux case. The memory stays in the present and moves things nicely into the situation with the cartels in Mexico and the refugees who came to the US as a result.
However, in the hands of director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Green Lantern) it just gets a little less good. By throwing some of the “details” overboard, you’re actually getting a more generic American action film like there are many others. For example, Werner Desmet’s character, here in the role of Harold Torres, has been pushed into the background, so that the welcome humor of the original is almost completely lost. She has been replaced by Linda (the role of Hilde De Baerdemaeker and here is played by Taj Atwal), which has increased a lot of diversity compared to the original, but still provides a different and more serious dynamic.
The effects of this disease were quite striking at the time of The Alzheimer’s Case and are now a bit out of date, but clearer than how they are described here. The endings are also very different in format. Before I see DZA again, I still remember the iconic image of Jan De Cleir that vanished after all the negotiations. It’s nowhere to be found here, so part of the thriller effect and emotional impact disappears.
The casting is good and not good
Asset is Liam Neeson’s casting. She doesn’t have much in common with iconic Jan Decleir, both in style and appearance, but you also soon have someone who can be both threatening and attractive. And let’s face it: on the action front, he still hasn’t forgotten about it. He also plays a slightly more vulnerable role than usual. Guy Pearce was not the obvious choice for Vincent, the role of Koen De Bouw. He’s a good actor, but he’s a little tougher than you’d expect for the role. He makes things a little more believable than the people around him.
A number of false notes, for example, more cliché dialogue for the updated characters, and not all of the other cast members are equally well chosen for me. In DZA you have Jo De Meyere as the big villain behind it all. In Memory the role was for Monica Bellucci, and I really didn’t think she acted that well. At the same time, the tension from the original is also gone, the scene with Deborah Ostrega for example, but there’s no shortage of violence. If you can see it all, it’s an entertaining thriller but it’s a remake that can’t match the original.