When Dead Again came out in 1991, 31 year old Kenneth Branagh was fresh off his stunning Henry V, and along with Emma Thompson, threatened to be the next big thing. So as a follow-up, why not try a modern Hitchcockian homage set in San Francisco, with Branagh playing the hard-bitten gumshoe who runs across Thompson, a mysterious woman who has lost her memory, is terrorized by nightmares from her past, and needs Branagh to sort it out.
At the time, the film was well-received (Roger Ebert – “I am a particular pushover for movies like this, movies that could go on the same list with Rebecca, Wuthering Heights or Vertigo”) and it holds an 82% on Rottentomatoes. I can’t scoff. In 1991, I thought it was clever and well-conceived.
How wrong I was. Dead Again just became available on Netflix streaming. It is an atrocious film. Branagh’s “American” accent is an awful, nasally annoyance; Thompson barely makes an impression; the story (Thompson and Branagh both lived past lives where he, a famous composer in the 40s, was executed for her murder) is a preposterous pile of pure Gouda; and the villain is so obvious and nonsensical that you are offended at the degradation of the fine actor playing him.
He’s also not so good with scissors.
I’ll give credit where credit is due – Robin Williams does a few decent cameo scenes as a disgraced former psychotherapist and a babyfaced Campbell Scott shows off some nifty ninja kicks.