Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: Total Recall

NOTE:  Sorry for the delay on this post.  I need to be more proactive in posting my reviews right after I see the movie.  I am doing a disservice to my loyal followers.

It's no secret that I am a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan.  I grew up on his movies and can quote line after line from some of his best.  One of his very best for me has always been Total Recall.  The original 1990 Paul Verhoeven version was a perfect mix of action, comedy and science fiction.  Little did I know when I was sitting in the theater (still not sure how I got into a rated R movie without my parents) that only 22 years later I'd be once again watching a remake of Total Recall.

In this 2012 reboot from Len Wiseman (director of some of the Underworld films and Live Free or Die Hard) Colin Farrell takes over the Schwarzenegger role of Douglas Quaid who ends up triggering a buried memory that sets of a sequence of events involving.  Instead of the Mars-themed locale of the original, this version focuses on a rift between the United Federation of England and a remote colony on Australia.  The rest of the world has been destroyed through nuclear holocaust.  Quaid ends up fighting with the resistance who are trying to overthrow the corrupt government in England.  Travel between the two areas of the world is made possible via a giant tunnel/elevator called The Fall that travels past the Earth's core.

Wiseman is a so-so director and brings us a lot of action and little heart with this film.  It seems all along that he and his cast are going through the motions of remaking what Arnold and company did in the original. Wiseman just seems to be a by-the-book director who really hasn't accomplished much in his career, with the exception of somehow duping the lovely Kate Beckinsale into marrying him.  Beckinsale is probably the most redeming aspect of this film.  She takes over the Sharon Stone role of playing Farrell's wife Lori who eventually double crosses her husband and spends most of the film spitting venom and fighting with Jessica Biel (Farrell's love interest).  You can see in the direction of this movie that Wiseman loves his wife and likes the idea of her getting it on physically with Biel.  Some of the best scenes in the movie are when Beckinsale goes ballistic on her adversaries.

Bryan Cranston (who is currently in his acting prime as Walter White on Breaking Bad) chimes in with a good supporting performance as the evil head villain Cohaagen.  Farrell himself is extremely boring in this movie.  He gives us none of the over-the-top bravado that Schwarzenegger brought to the role.  I am starting to think that Colin Farrell is one of the more overrated actors in Hollywood.  His best movie to-date by far has been In Bruges.

I left the theater asking one question, "why was this movie made?"  Wiseman and his production crew didn't make a terrible movie but there was nothing overly new or interesting about this Total Recall that made it better than the original in any way.  Sure, there are a few cool new features like The Fall, the overall visual effects and the welcome addition of Beckinsale, but all in all this is a disappointing film that made me long for a re-watch of the original.  Thankfully, the producers managed to put in a few nods to the Verhoeven version by adding in the three-breasted girl and a brief glimpse at a woman at the security center who looks like Arnold in disguise from the first film complete with the "Two Weeks" line.  For those who don't follow, click here.  Hopefully this reboot doesn't present a new trend of remaking all of Arnold's old films (imagine a Kindergarten Cop remake).  A lukewarm 2 out of 5 JR's for the new Total Recall which should be seen only as a rental or on cable.