Saturday, August 4, 2012

Total Recall review

It was 1990 when Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the mind blowing, science fiction thriller, Total Recall. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, it featured the over the top action that he is known for. Of course, there were plenty of Arnold one liners, all delivered in his monotone, muscle bound Austrian accent. But even Arnold's bad acting could not smother the intelligence of the story. That's because it was based on Phillip K. Dick's short story, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." Now here comes a remake starring a better actor, Colin Farrell.

In this year's version, it's the future. After a "chemical" war, the earth is divided into two areas. They are the The United Federation of Britain ruled by Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) and the Colony. The film starts out with a dream sequence where Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) dreams of a failed escape from government troops with a woman later known as Melina. (Jessica Biel) He wakes up and the reality of the moment is that he is married to Lori. (Kate Beckinsale) He has a dull job of making security robots.

Quaid decides to go to Rekall, a company that implants memories. Rekall employee (John Cho) convinces Quaid he should be implanted with memories of being a spy. A test on Quaid fails, and McClane accuses him of being a spy. At this moment, the police break in and kill all the employees of Rekall. Quaid instinctively beats up the police and kills them. Quaid, now a fugitive, must find out who he really is.

The first thing you notice about this movie are the production values. This movie looks like a cross between Minority Report and Blade Runner. And you can't find fault with the actors. It's a good thing that Beckinsale can act because you would certainly hear the accusations of favoritism since she's director Len Wiseman's real life wife.

But a good movie is more than pretty pictures and easy on the eyes actors. It requires a good screenplay and direction. And this remake lacks both. First, director Wiseman heaps action sequence on top of action sequence. It became boring. But he worst part of this movie is the incoherent screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback. If you didn't watch the first movie or read the short story, you would be lost. There is a lack of exposition and any dialogue that makes you care about the characters. I mean when Quaid goes to Rekall, you don't know why or care. And how did the police know Quaid was at Rekall? And why did Quaid go to seek the help of the resistance leader, Matthias? (Bill Nighhy) Don't know and don't care.

The 1990 version was about things not being what they seemed. That movie featured mutants, Mars, and alien life. Len Wiseman's version makes a bad decision by straying far from the source material. This new movie makes no sense. There is one homage to the older movie. There's a scene of a three breasted woman, just like the 1990 version. But it makes no sense since this version is not about mutants. It's a cheap nod that I'm sure Wiseman thought the audience would love just like a catch phrase. Instead, it's comes off cold and cynical.

Considering the source material, I'm going to be harder on this version of Total Recall than the run of the mill movie. The 1990 version was smarter. This one is diluted. The grade is C.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

The cast and action make this predictable story a whole lot more enjoyable, but it’s still the same, old formula as the original. Except this time, it’s without all of the hilarious Arnie one-liners. Now those were truly missed here. Nice review Bernie.