So Let’s Go To Mars….Or Not.
Total Recall is a bit of a funny thing. People will undoubtedly compare this to the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of the same name and quibble about how many things are different from the original. But in actuality when compared to the Philip K. Dick story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, both movies take huge liberties with the plot so I went into watching this as its own movie and tried to base my review on its own merits. And when I did that something interesting happened, I had fun with it.
Now if you have seen the 1990 version then you know the basic setup. Douglas Quaid is stuck in a do nothing job with a super hot wife and he feels like there is something missing in his life. So he goes to a place called Rekall where you can be implanted with fake memories to have to ultimate time of your life. Quaid chooses to be a secret agent but before the memory can take hey discover he already is a secret agent and his mind has been altered. Then he kills like ten police officers and heads home. Once there (like in the original) his wife tries to kill him and reveals she has been doing her job by keeping him placated to the life he has.
Here is where things veer off from the 1990 version. Instead of Arnold trying to get to Mars and meet up with Quato he is in search of a man called Matthias, who has a lack of belly face like the original. Actually there is no Mars in this movie at all. The two sides of the coin are the United Federation of Britain(UFB) and The Colony which are the only two remaining cities on Earth. Basically The Colony is Australia and the UFB is England and they commute by using something called The Fall which is a mass transit system that goes through the Earth’s core to connect the two. You know what, don’t think of the logistics too much or you will stop having fun with the movie. The UFB is using staged terrorists acts to make way for a full military takeover of The Colony. Ready….go.
Director Len Wiseman (Underworld, Live Free or Die Hard) may not be a known director but the guy can shoot a competent action flick. The pacing is pretty good and there were never really any moments when the movie felt like it was dragging. One of the bonuses of having Wiseman direct is that we get the eye candy bonus of his wife, Kate Beckinsale. Add in the (cough) appeal of Jessica Biel and you pretty much have a Redbox rental by box art alone. Colin Farrell plays the everyman turned agent well enough. Farrell has quietly been stringing some good, but different, performances together (Horrible Bosses, Fright Night) so it’s pretty fun to see him running and gunning in a sci-fi action film.
It is easy for me to pick out the one thing I really liked and the one thing that I didn’t. First off I thought the production design by Patrick Tatopoulos was pretty great. The look of the cities had a very vertical look to it which is what needed to happen with the world’s population being forced to live in two cities. The only logical place to take the city was up and I loved the look of the futuristic interstate system during chase scenes and the buildings were in some ways influenced by Blade Runner. What rubbed me the wrong way was the complete lack of Bryan Cranston. It just seems a shame to me that this movie was able to get one of the best actors going as Cohaagen and had nothing better for him than “insert cliche bad guy here”. This is the same guy that gives you chills on Breaking Bad and for most of the time he is barking orders at Beckinsale.
Is Total Recall a special movie? Honestly, no it is not but that in no way mean it is a bad movie. You won’t find the questions lingering like in the 1990 original. 2012’s Total Recall goes the straight up action route and pulls it off pretty decently. It movies along at a good clip and uses most of its cast well (it’s Cranton man, c’mon). I can say that I had fun watching it when I turned my brain off which, to be honest, we need to do with movies every now and then.
NERD RATING- 7.0/ 10