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Movies From the Black Lagoon: Unforgettable
Movies From the Black Lagoon
Unforgettable - 1996, Rated R
A grieving widower injects himself with an untested drug to try and catch his wife's killer in this suspense yarn that blends science fiction elements and murder mystery plotting for a solid fusion that should please fans of both genres.
Ray Liotta stars as David Krane, a Seattle based medical examiner who we first meet at the site of a grisly slaying in a pharmacy. The scene takes on a deeper meaning for Krane when He spies a folded matchbook left behind by the killer. He pockets the evidence and we soon learn that a similar clue turned up at the scene of his wife's murder.
Krane talks a colleague into testing the matches for prints while he pursues a researcher, Briggs, who claims she has affected memory transfers in lab rats. Krane is desperate enough to make himself the first human subject for Briggs' experiment but she isn't having it and prefers to wait out the seven-year trial period imposed by law.
There's also the matter of the potion's side effects, which include a heavy toll on the heart.
Turns out that Krane's grief has subverted his ethics, along side his common sense, so he has no problem stealing the formula as well as a sample of his wife's brain. He injects himself with both and experiences his wife's murder from her viewpoint as well as some scattered memories. Unfortunately he doesn't glimpse the killer and repeats the process with tissue obtained from a female art student who was killed in the pharmacy massacre. This time he gets a great look at the murderer's face. He brings his knowledge to a sketch artist but notices a strange side effect when he finds that he can now draw as well as the victim whose memories he's inherited.
Briggs is no dummy and shows up at Krane's office looking for her drug. Unfortunately he used it all up but he is happy to describe his experience for her notes. She goes him one better and stations herself at his side to observe the side effects. They hit pay dirt right away when Krane's sketch of the killer turns up a suspect named Sutton.
Krane opts to keep the authorities out of the loop, as he can't reveal how he identified the killer so he seeks him out on his own. This turns out to be another bad idea which leads to Krane taxing his heart and the killer getting gun downed in the middle of a crowded church by Seattle's finest.
Krane goes totally around the bend and is soon injecting himself with the killer's brain matter which leads to a harrowing scene of the child abuse which distorted the man's world view followed by the shocking revelation that he didn't kill Krane's wife. It all leads to one more experiment with the drug that lays Krane out on living room floor while the real killer makes his appearance and proceeds to burn down the house with Krane and Briggs still inside. Telling you how it all ends would be criminal but revealing the killer's identity would be even worse, suffice to say it's someone who you wouldn't expect.
This one pulls off some far-fetched ideas and that's all to the credit of director John Dahl. He was at the top of his game when he made this (having come off the success of "The Last Seduction"). Ray Liotta also deserves a share of the kudos for pulling off a tricky role that requires him to sacrifice good judgment at every turn due to his emotionally clouded judgment. He's fine here and deserved to move on to bigger things but he and Dahl were vilified by the critics who had it out for this movie and its star (who had just come off "Goodfellas"). There are some plot holes here and a few missed opportunities (the biggest being that each injection should have complicated things by adding new personalities to Krane's brain as well as talents). Then there are Krane's two daughters who should have been featured more as their welfare was a chief motivator for his quest to clear his name. That said this movie is all about taking you for a ride and it succeeds on that score. Who cares if the trip gets a little bumpy?
Best Line: " A brain-scan wouldn't be a bad idea. Just to make sure you have one."
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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