Total Recall: Loud, Trigger Happy & Bland
Bryan CranstonColin Farrell...
Action & AdventureScience Fiction
In 1 Cinema
reviewed byreview it
Farrell plays Quaid, a working stiff who every night has a dream of being chased by police and eventually captured, while the mystery brunette he’s with tries to save him, fails, then escapes. Saddled with an unfulfilled feeling, like he isn’t living the life he’s supposed to be living, he goes to Rekall, a place where he can get memories implanted for a fee. There he discovers that his memory has already been tampered with and that prior to the latest iteration of his life, he was a secret agent. His world’s further busted apart when his wife Lori (Beckinsale) reveals her true identity and turns against him. As he tries to outrun her, while simultaneously discovering the truth about his past, he meets Milena (Biel), the brunette from his dreams and an active member in the anti-government resistance. She tries to fill in the gaps in his memory while he does what he can to help her cause.
Hollywood’s latest remake finds the Arnold Schwarzenegger original updated to modern day sensibilities. Where the former was about providing a colonised Mars with a breathable atmosphere and saving it’s people from the tyranny of the capitalist air trade, the latter is very firmly set on a post nuclear war ravaged, almost uninhabitable, Earth and deals with the prevention of an invasion of the Colony (Australia) by the United Federation of Britain – who want more liveable land and cheap labour. Despite the thematic differences, the overall arc is cribbed straight from the original along with a bunch of the lines and the three-boobed hooker. The remake, however, manages to be more overwhelming and less satisfying.
The opening scene alone should come with an epilepsy warning and the rest of the film is basically back to back explosions, gun fire and head-splitting noise. As for the acting, Biel is practically the only person who makes an impression on screen and she’s actually pretty good. Farrell on the other hand seems lost; he’s really not action hero material no matter how much he may look the part, while Beckinsale is overshadowed by the amount of hair constantly obscuring her face. As for Nighy, who plays the leader of the resistance, well he pops up, blandly intones some philosophical gibberish, then disappears. Yoda showed more personality than him.
This film, like many other sci-fi productions provokes a question: what’s with the Asian fetish? In Total Recall, it’s apparent in the number of Asian extras, the parasols they carry and the interior design, though notably the obsession doesn’t stretch to the three main leads, all of whom are lily white. Some multilingual signs exist to make the Colony look like the melting pot it should be (we definitely spotted some Arabic in there) but for what it’s worth, it looks far more like Japan than Australia. The film’s overall aesthetic is, like practically every sci-fi film out there, is heavy on the grimy concrete, rain and neon lights, i.e. it knocks off Blade Runner, but still looks inferior to the now thirty-year-old classic.
It’s astounding how a film with a pretty decent, thought provoking concept turned out to be so bland. So if there’s one Total Recall you have to see, make it the original.