‘Total Recall’ Film Review
Director/Directors: Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, et al
Rating: 12 (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A.)
Genre: Sci-fi, action
Release Date: 2012
Rating: 3 stars (Average)
Is it real, is it recall: this is the tagline of the movie remake Total Recall, but is it the correct tagline? Science-fiction and action fans better buckle up; you’re in for a flawed yet entertaining time.
In this remake of the 1990 original, factory worker Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is fed up of his mundane, down-to-earth (pun intended) life, wishing there was something more. But once he visits Rekall, a mind-bending experience that allows you to live your wildest fantasies without ever leaving a chair, things begin to change for the worse. Suddenly everyone is after him, and Quaid begins to realise just how much danger he’s in. Enter a hover-car chase, plenty of shootouts, and an angry woman set on killing Quaid.
The story takes place entirely on Earth (unlike the Arnold Schwarzenegger original, which takes place on Mars), and the city is hard to ignore: it’s a beautiful, Blade Runner-come-Venice type deal, complete with higher and lower levels of construction. If there are any gamers out there, think of the place as the new Deus Ex game, and you’ll get the picture. The film is CGI-heavy, but it doesn’t detract from the experience, apart from maybe one or two scenes which look obviously fake. Basically, what this means is the backdrops of the story are just as important to take in as everything else, especially if you love technology and gadgets. The movie is far slicker than the original too, and one particular gadget really caught my eye: a fridge with an LCD screen to write messages. Small things like this really enhance the experience and draw you in, and ‘The Fall’ (a very interesting way of traveling between the United Kingdom and Australia) is just incredible to watch, and for writers, readers, and film-buffs who let their imagination run wild, stuff like this really makes the film worthwhile to watch. Even though, sadly, the invention wouldn’t quite work. Still, one can hope.
Unfortunately, there were some things which did not quite make this film a modern masterpiece. There were no outstanding acting performances in the film, and even Colin Farrell fails to make the main character memorable (Arnie’s charm in the original is undeniable). The beginning is terrible in the case of intense flashing lights, and I’m sorry to say that it was so bad that I had to look away, making me miss the first few minutes of the film. Of course it probably won’t be as bad when it’s released on DVD. Also, the two actresses, one ‘good’ and one ‘bad’, are sometimes hard to differentiate, especially during fight scenes, as neither have any unique features which set them apart from one another. Another minor point is that Bill Nighy’s American accent fails to impress, and seeing as his character’s stay is short, it definitely is a shame.
However, one thing continues to grate on me, and that’s the tagline: Is it real, is it recall. In the original movie, there are hints of the whole thing being Recall (meaning Arnold Schwarzenegger was imagining the entire thing the whole time) and also hints that it is indeed comletely true, making it the viewer’s choice to decide which it was. Whilst I am not going to spoil which it is in the remake, it’s pretty clear whether it is real or not, and that almost defeats the whole point of the film. Hint: in the original Arnie has to take a pill to ‘wake up’ in Recall, but let’s say in the remake the way to ‘wake up’ is a little more…drastic, and also it is a plothole. However, as I don’t like giving spoilers away (I hate them myself), I will say no more. 😛
To sum up, then, Total Recall is neither a genius piece of filmmaking nor is it a radically different step forwards in the genre. But as either a night in or a night out (depending on when you watch it), this is a film that will deliver action-packed sequences and a good time, and for those of you who have seen the original, there are a couple of cheeky nods towards the original. For those of you who haven’t seen the original and would like to, I suggest watching it before this one – it’s much better. And even though this Douglas Quaid wasn’t in quite as much of a predicament as the original Quaid, it is still worth the watch.