TOTAL RECALL “Film Review”: Get your ass out of the theater
2 OUT OF 4 STARS
I went to check out “TOTAL RECALL” last night, I guess part of being a movie buff is that I have to expose myself to a lot of crap, that’s not to say this movie is shit. But it is pretty damn close to the toilet. Len Wiseman’s Total Recall is nowhere as fun as Paul Verhoeven’s original film. Both films are based on the the short story “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. This means that the source material is intriguing and captivating for any science fiction fan. This is true on both films, but while Verhoeven’s film uses the “cheese-factor” to keeps us entertained, Wiseman’s Recall tries to be more serious but never really becomes cerebral enough to keep us engaged.
First there’s the plot and story, the roots for this film are essentially the same as its predecessor. It follows the story of Douglas Quaid, a factory worker who’s not quite happy with the way his life turned out, he continues to have a reoccurring dream in which him and a strange woman are being chased down by some sort of swat team and robots. In his search for something different and against his wife’s advice, Quaid goes to Rekall. At Rekall, Quaid gets implanted with memories of the life he would have dreamed of, the life of a secret agent. Before the procedure begins something goes technically wrong and a bunch of army dudes break into the lab. Quaid kills them all and realizes he has the skills of a futuristic Jason Bourne.
As I mentioned before, both films have similar premise, but are very different. The original uses Mars as a big element of the story, along with the mutants and the entire revolution movement to make Mars a breathable planet. This film takes place entirely on earth, in which only two continents are populated since everything else has gone to shit. For some reason those continents are the UK and Australia, and the only thing that connects them is a high speed subway like transport that travels through the earth’s core. That right there seems like more than enough material to explore some good possibilities with the story and the action. The director only focuses on the action part but because it lacks motivation it becomes meaningless on screen.
There are no mutants but there is a revolution, between the rich and the poor and Quaid is right in the middle of it. Collin Farrell is completely neutral in this role, I couldn’t have care less for this character, to me it didn’t matter if he got shot or not. His fake wife, played by the sexy Kate Beckinsale is alright in this role, I didn’t care much for her either. She is director Len Wiseman’s real wife, hence the reason why she’s in this and in the Underworld movies. Yes, it is the same director so know what to expect. Then, there’s Quaid’s real girlfriend Melina, played by the even sexier Jessica Biel. It’s almost as if this movie was casted by the editors at Maxim magazine. Finally there’s Bryan Cranston as Cohaagen, and this is probably the only performance I was looking forward to since I love “Breaking Bad”. Too bad that in this film Cranston has been reduced to less than Malcom’s dad.
The film has some pretty cool action moments, specially during the first act. I guess it is because you don’t really know much and you accept the mindlessness of what’s happening. However, it soon becomes redundant. The visuals are great, but again, mostly during the first half of the movie. As the film progresses the architecture of the future becomes more cluttered and less dramatic, at one point I wasn’t sure if they were in the colony or in the federation. The were lots of cool designs and some of the technology in this future is awesome and some kind of dumb. I particularly liked the designs of the robots, but for some strange reason they became weaker as the movie progressed. Somehow Quaid was able to push, punch and grapple these robots with much ease, yet he doesn’t shatter a bone. At one point I was actually expecting a crazy reveal like Quaid is actually a cyborg or something. I mean seriously, if a human is fighting a robot and he elbows the robot in the face I would expect the human’s arm to break into pieces. In “I, Robot” they had the right idea, Will Smith’s character had a cybernetic arm.
Don’t bother watching this in theaters, wait to rent it or download it. It is entertaining, but mostly for the first half, after that it really goes nowhere except more of the same. I did like this film more than “Lockout” which was a complete mess, I didn’t even bothered to write a review for that one. Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall remains king and closer to Philip K. Dick’s original material.