MOVIE REVIEW: TOTAL RECALLComment on this story
DIRECTOR: Len Wiseman
CAST: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho
CLASSIFICATION: 13M LV
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
RATING: 3 stars (out of 5)
‘WE CAN Remember it for You Wholesale’ is the original book title, but you are better off not remembering what went before with this new version.
Much of the enjoyment you can take from this Len Wiseman remake comes from the smartly choreographed action sequences. Fight scenes are filmed up close and there are clever chase sequences. But the tongue-in- cheek humour and meticulous setting of the first film is lost.
It’s also quite an opportunity missed considering Colin Farrell, who tackles the role of the main character Douglas Quaid, is an appealing actor who can actually act.
Here, though, he doesn’t have much to grab on to in terms of character growth or story arc.
Quaid is a factory worker who decides to get a memory implant to spice up his boring existence. Things don’t go as planned at the Rekall offices and suddenly there are people trying to kill him. One of these includes his wife (Mrs Len Wiseman – Kate Beckinsale – trying desperately to show that her eye muscles still work).
But that’s okay, Jessica Biel picks him up on a highway and tells him what’s going on. Never mind the sudden information dump that doesn’t make much sense, another Wiseman favourite, Bill Nighy, is waiting at the end of the dusty road. (Also, heads up – Biel plays the Melina character, though she is never introduced and only named once as an aside. Makes you wonder what else ended up on the cutting floor).
There are several shots with annoying flaring light, just in the corner of your eye, but whether this was supposed to mean anything is debatable.
The set look is derivative of any number of better sci-fi films which we have seen over the past few years. Minority Report meets AI, with a touch of Fifth Element’s sets, but sans the OTT costumes.
Back when Arnie made the original ‘Total Recall’ in 1990, we forgave him the stilted acting, because the script added some surreal fun touches.
Yes, Blade Runner (1982) had introduced us to the work of Phillip K Dick (he also wrote ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ on which ‘Blade Runner’ was based).
But just as Ridley Scott had created an amazingly detailed and intriguing world in Blade Runner, director Paul Verhoeven also created a richly detailed world with ‘Total Recall’.
Verhoeven went large on the action and violence, but he had Schwarzenegger to throw around, so it worked.
What was even better was that the background sets and people created an understanding for why the people on Mars were rebelling against the Earth’s government. There was a definite disparity between how the Martians lived and what Earth was like.
This disparity is nowhere near as defined in the Wiseman version. People live on one of two land masses on Earth – after a major catastrophe destroys most of the land masses – and those living in the “colony” where Australia used to be are the workers.
But the difference seems to be cosmetic. Where are the disgruntled, huddled masses? Nighy doesn’t quite convince us of his saintly purpose to lead the masses to the freedom they don’t seem to be asking for.
The film lacks the playful whimsy of ‘Fifth Element’, doesn’t have ‘Minority Report’s’ moral questioning, completely missed the point of the original film and doesn’t carry the dystopian gravitas of ‘Blade Runner’.
Yes, it’s unfair to compare, but if you steal visual cues from other films then you need to make your own film better in some way.
Still – it’s fun watching Farrell go from sleepy factory worker to deadly action man and then back again.
If you liked… ‘I am Legend’ or ‘Tron: Legacy’… you will like this.