This is the realm which writer/director Jose Nestor Marquez fathoms with his melodramatic SciFi potboiler – Reversion – which opened theatrically on October 9, 2015 (in the U.S.). In it, actress Aja Naomi King (ABC TV’s How To Get Away With Murder) stars as Sophie Clé, senior marketing executive to her father’s company on the verge of revolutionizing the tech industry with the release of the Oubli, a wearable device that highlights and deeply enhances a positive personal memory of the user’s choosing. By amplifying all the best that remembrance has to offer, the tool becomes a means to perfect the individual’s ability to achieve a kind of personal harmony, thereby maximizing the possibility to lead a better life.
As a Science Fiction film, Reversion rather easily taps into a world “just around the corner,” familiar enough to encourage a more mainstream audience to take notice but willing to ask more than a few cerebral questions about reality that’ll keep the nerdier of us interested. In fact, the Oubli operates via an APP interface on the user’s tablet or SmartPhone not all that unlike the Bluetooth-enabled ‘fitness’ tech that’s all today’s consumer rage. Marquez’s script is smart and timely, offering audiences a glimpse into one of the popular ‘what if’ scenarios that drives so much of the better stories that dabble in futurism. At all times, this tale remains one with a decidedly human focus, but it’s a yarn that relies on the technological inclusion in order to unfold the way it does.
“Reversion centers on Sophie Clé, a delighted user of the Oubli, a wisp of high-tech jewelry that wraps behind the ear and uses neuroscience to help users experience their most joyful memories as if they were happening for the first time. In addition to being the head of marketing for the company that makes this revolutionary memory-enhancing wearable device, she is also the daughter of its inventor, Jack Clé (Colm Feore). Sophie’s most joyful memory is the last day she saw her mother alive, fifteen years earlier. But on the eve of the Oubli’s worldwide launch, a stranger named Isa (Jeanette Samano) kidnaps Sophie, setting off a chain of events that remind us all, you can’t escape what you can’t forget.”
In traditional mystery fashion, Sophie finds herself drawn further and further into what appears to be a case of mistaken identity behind a fateful occurrence between her parents. On this quest for the truth, her only confidante remains Ayden, her company-provided chauffeur and bodyguard. Ayden is played by Gary Dourdan, formerly part of the ensemble of players aboard CBS TV’s powerful CSI franchise. For my tastes, Dourdan was pretty perfectly cast as the soft-spoken outsider who knows more than he’s willing to let on; as he begrudgingly realizes Sophie will stop at nothing to reveal facts she finds in conflict with reality (or even what she believes it to be), all he can do is walk that fine line between service and loyalty even at the risk of his own life.
As a potboiler, however, Reversion isn’t perfect, much like the science it depicts.
Both Feore and Dourdan’s performances are reliable – if not occasionally predictable – as it’s clear fairly early on that their motivations were always intended to remain suspect from start-to-finish. Are they the guilty parties, or are they merely covering up some even darker secret? As an actor, Feore has always maintained a workmanlike charm even in his more obscure roles; and – though the tabloids have had a field day with his personal struggles – Dourdan remains a bankable talent who easily inhabits alpha males with a tortured undercurrent like his ‘Ayden’ here. Personally, I’d love to see both of them get more work, but the industry it what it is.
In the end, Reversion reverts to what some may find to be solutions all-too-easy, but I’d argue that’s exactly the human condition the film best explores: in our core, we’re all creatures of habit, and those habits will always (always!) take us back to moments of clarity … much like the Oubli’s central purpose. What we choose to do with that information will define as well as haunt us because we can never fully escape the humanity – or inhumanity – that’s as much a part of our past as it is our future. Thankfully, there’ll never be an APP for that.