Hugh Jackman in Reminiscence

“Some things that happened for the first time,” Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) sings, “seem to be happening again.” She is lying in a bath with electrodes attached to her head, mentally replaying her live set from earlier in the day, while the technician guiding the machine she’s hooked up to, Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), loses objectivity by the second, falling in love with the hologram-doubled memories of a stranger. As Nick’s obsession takes him further away from reality toward the unattainable, first-feature director Lisa Joy grounds her telling in a landscape that matches it: the remains of a half-sunken Miami following some future climate disaster. As land slips away under the beating waves, the characters find less to anchor themselves to reality with, succumbing instead to the pull of memories, even where that means choosing death.

Joy finds the right balance of action and abstraction throughout the film. Nick’s time in the Navy comes up a lot—he keeps almost getting shot by tough guys until they find out that he’s a fellow ex-serviceman and cut him slack. But his business, the memory bath, started life as enhanced interrogation technology before filtering down to the civilian market, rechristened as a luxury. Who owns the world?

Jackman’s Nick has some Sam Spade in him, but he’s a Humphrey Bogart who doesn’t get to excuse himself from emotional involvement anymore by saying it’s all about a dollar at the end of the day. His city isn’t just corrupt, it’s underwater. Nick’s a new type of noir detective, who when he finds that he’s in too deep doesn’t abscond back to the petty grind but ugly-cries into the camera and obliterates himself for what he wants. He might as well; the world’s ended already. “Go ahead, shoot me,” he says, right before a CGI shot of what climate apocalypse will likely really do to the Venetian Causeway in ten or 12 years. PG-13, 115 min.

Streaming on HBO Max, in theaters at AMC Theatres, Regal Theatres, ShowPlace Icon Theatre