Total Recall C+
Unfortunately, the remake of “Total Recall” doesn’t have that much to do with the 1990, much admired original, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
review of original film: www.emanuellevy.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=54957&action=edit
Several elements of the previous film reappear—including, of course, the recall machine that gives one the new memories of one’s choice—but this is for the most part its own film: less charming, less intriguing, much, much more action-packed.
In screenwriter Kurt Wimmer’s rewrite, chemical warfare has left most of the world a post-apocalyptic “No Zone,” where no one can survive without a handy gas mask. Curiously enough, England has somehow reasserted itself as the world’s sole superpower (now, that would be a compelling movie!), and human society is divided into the haves and have nots of the spiffy United Federation of Britain and the grungy Colony, home to all worker bees. The Colony, by the way, looks suspiciously like the “Blade Runner” set.
Stranger still, the underclass travels back and forth to the UFB on a skyscraper-sized elevator called The Fall, which passes from one side of the world to the other, through the Earth’s core, in just about fifteen minutes. It’s a nutty new world indeed.
Douglas Quaid (a sturdy Colin Farrell) makes this trip every day with his coworker pal Harry (the spooky Bokeem Woodbine) to slave away in a factory for police robots on the UFB side. His home life in the Colony with his sexy wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale), seems strained, and Douglas is plagued by nightmares centering on a mystery love (Jessica Biel). “Do I make you feel trapped?” Lori demurs as Douglas awakens from yet another bad dream.
Anxious Douglas considers visiting Rekall, the company that hooks you up to the memory machine and sends you flying off into your dream life, He needs a break from his routine and especially his nightmares. Harry warns him not to, but Douglas won’t hear it, choosing a secret agent fantasy for his first time.
Moments before his trip is to begin, police break into Rekall to arrest him as an anti-UFB resistance leader—a leader he’s never known himself to be.
From there, the film follows a convoluted, univolving path that makes little sense dramatically. Douglas suddenly discovers a new skillset for violence and easily kills all the police in a couple minutes, then rushes home, only to have Lori, an anti-resistance professional, try to snub him out. In fact, she insists she’s not really his wife, never has been. When he looks shocked, she sneers, “I give good wife!”
Kate Beckinsale’s performance—gleefully wielding all sorts of weaponry and flipping her mane around as if it were also some sort of lethal device—is way over the top. She’s a demon woman who chases frantically after Douglas into the final frames of the film. There’s an inevitable catfight between Beckinsale and Biel in an elevator that unfortunately rushes by. It probably should’ve been saved for last.
Douglas is on the run from the law for the rest of the movie, eventually hooking up with his mystery gal, Melina, who may be his true love, and learning that the government may have wiped out all his memories of his previous life with the rebels. “Everybody seems to know me except me,” he complains. Is his true identity resistance leader? Or double agent who’s infiltrated the rebellion?
Whatever the answer, a lot is apparently at stake, but you don’t care about any of it. The UFB’s preparing to invade the Colony, and Douglas is the only one who may be able to halt the imminent war—with a secret code locked somewhere deep inside his brain.
He must travel with Melina the old-fashioned way, by subway, out into the No Zone to meet Matthias (Bill Nighy), the head of the entire resistance, and find out more about his past and get that code retrieved.
Bill Nighy’s appearance here is far too brief. He gives Douglas a short but sweet lecture on living in the present, and then he’s out of the picture.
Directed by Len Wiseman of the “Underworld” movies, the emphasis in this “Total Recall” is on action, action, and more action, but not too exciting–by the genre’s standards. The trippy premise is just there to set up the fights and explosions, and the natural question hanging over the movie—whether this entire experience is real or just Douglas’s Rekall hallucination—is, in the end, given short shrift, surprisingly so.
The grand finale on The Fall is fairly spectacular, and a bit with Douglas finding a phone implanted in his hand is pretty cool (yes, he tears it out), but this film mostly lacks the forward-looking imagination that science-fiction fans long for and that the original film delivered well. The new “Total Recall” is, needless to say, about as far as you can get from what the story’s creator, writer Philip K. Dick, had in mind back in the 1960s.
Leave a Reply
- Inside Llewyn Davis: Top Coens, Cannes Highlight
- Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of Plains Indian)
- Fast & Furious 6: Thrilling Joyride
- Angelina Jolie Double Mastectomy–Talk of Cannes Film Fest
- Bling Ring, The
- Before Midnight: Hawke and Delpie at Mid-Age
- Stories We Tell
- Great Gatsby: Luhrmann’s Jazzy Spectacle
- Star Trek into Darkness: Solid Sequel
- Love Is All You Need: From Denmark Via Italy
- Kiss of the Damned: Oversexed Vampires