Sep 5 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
TOTAL Recall is a remake of the 1990 science fiction film of the same name.
Colin Farrell stars as Douglas Quaid, a factory worker who finds himself on the run after a visit to fake memory implanting company Rekall.
The original Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger taking on a more intelligent role and being put through the physical wringer is regarded as something of a sci-fi classic... but it ain’t.
Sure it’s a lot of fun, but watch it again and you realise that’s all it is.
Ripe for a remake then, particularly in this age of technological cinematic advances? You’d think so...
Sadly, while not as bad as many feared, Total Recall 2012 suffers badly from comparisons to the original and doesn’t have much going for it other than impressive action and special effects.
When it was announced that Len Wiseman would be filling the director’s chair many people took a collective wince.
His Underworld movies are a hard-nosed critic’s nightmare (personally I enjoyed them) and he was accused of neutering John McClane in Die Hard 4.0.
He provides some visual flair but the epilepsy-inducing opening gunfight is an early insight into his love for shining bright lights into his camera, which quickly tries your patience.
The neon-lit future city-scape complete with pouring rain is pure Blade Runner and Rekall is based in a much grimier location, run as a smaller scale operation.
The original movie had its tongue planted firmly in its cheek but Wiseman takes the unwise decision to make his version humourless.
Farrell, in a rare ‘name above the title’ Hollywood leading man role, isn’t allowed to wisecrack like Arnie and he and co-star Jessica Biel (Melina) are left with too serious, pretty bland characters.
Five writers are given a screenplay credit on this new take on renowned science fiction author Philip K. Dick’s story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale and their changes to the original film’s story are, in the main, inferior.
Mars is gone (bar a brief mention) and the closest thing to it is a barely used “no zone” land.
Head-popping? Nope, this is the 12A Total Recall. Three-breasted woman? There, but a token gesture to pacify fans.
There’s a substandard take on Arnie’s dress-up transport check-in scene and a “synthetic army” are too reminiscent of Star Wars’ Clone Army or I, Robot’s mechanical menaces.
As Douglas’ wife Lori, Kate Beckinsale gets a much meatier role than Sharon Stone’s lycra-clad sexpot in the original, perhaps due to the fact she is married to the director, but she makes for an unconvincing villainess.
Talented actors Bill Nighy (Matthias) and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston (Cohaagen) are wasted with very little screen time.
But Total Recall isn’t a total turkey.
The basic story is still strong and if you go into the film without having seen the original you’ll get more out of it.
Wiseman knows how to film action. The hyperactive on-foot and mid-air car chases are good fun and he lets Farrell and Beckinsale tear into each other in some nice fight scenes.
A couple of ‘is it all real?’ nods are nicely done too.
But Total Recall’s lack of humour and a constant feel of overfamiliarity really drag it down.
For quality sci-fi starring Farrell, get Minority Report on DVD instead.
Rating – 5 out of 10.