TOTAL RECALL ( 2012 ) – The Review
Well Mr. Farrell, is this going to be an annual Summertime event ? I’m talking about his starring in big budget remakes. And not of films from Hollywood’s Golden Age. These are from the last 30 years or so ( I saw them in theatres in the original release, so thanks for making me feel even older Mr. F! ). Last year he was in the remake of 1985′s FRIGHT NIGHT taking on Chris Sarandon’s suburban vamp Jerry Brewster ( I prefer the original for Roddy McDowell and the lack of murky, dim 3D ). This time he’s got much bigger shoes to fill. Farrell’s got the Arnold Schwarzenegger role in the remake of TOTAL RECALL. The first version came out in 1990 inbetween the Austrian Oak’s comedies KINDERGARTEN COP and TWINS, well before he returned as our favorite cinema cyborg. This was also director Paul Verhoeven’s follow-up to ROBOCOP ( which is about to be rebooted soon ). Now Len Wiseman ( perhaps best known for starting the UNDERWORLD series ) is behind the reins. Can he replace our memories of a butt-kickin’ Sharon Stone and those misshapen Mars mutants with this new SF head trip?
It’s pretty much the same set-up as before. Doug Quaid ( Farrell ) is a working drone living in the “Colony”. Seems that in the far off future the only parts of Earth that are still inhabitable are England ( now the United Federation of Britain where all the swells reside in luxury ) and an island across the globe ( probably Australia ) called ” The Colony”. It’s not so nice. You could say that it’s Gotham City to UFB’s Metropolis ( for you comics fans ). Every morning Doug leaves his gorgeous wife Lori ( Kate Beckinsale ) and joins pal Harry ( Bookem Woodbine ) in a massive commuter tube ( called ” the Drop”, or ” the Fall”, or something ominous like that ) that shoots them through the Earth’s core to UFB where they work at a factory producing robots ( or “Synthoids ” ) used as military back-up. Seems a revolutionary group lead by Matthias ( Bill Nighy ), which is trying to liberate the colonists, is causing UFB leader Cohaagen ( Bryan Cranston ) no end of headaches. Speaking of the old noggin, Doug’s not been sleeping well because of some dreams where he’s fighting UFB forces alongside gorgeous warrior Melina ( Jessica Biel ). These visions along with some job fatigue inspire Doug to walk into the local “Rekall” shop ( despite Harry’s warnings ). ” Rekall ” plants new memories into your brain via a high-tech brain-chair. But something goes haywire and a switch is tripped inside Doug. Seems that everything he knows is a lie! ( Cue David Byrne, ” This is not my beautiful wife..” ). Can he get to the bottom of things and learn the truth about his past? And how does he fit into the big global battles? Just who is he and what side is he on?
So does this version work better in the era of CGI effects? Well, Farrell is more believable as a working stiff than Ah-nold. And Mr. F handles the action stuff very well. But, for wont of a better word, the 1990 model is a whole lot more fun. I mean gooey-cheesy fun! There are a few nods to the original, but I miss those over-the-top make-up effects from Rob Bottin and company. And the new version is repetitious almost to the point of boredom. It’s chase, leap, shoot, chase, exposition…., shoot, chase, explosion, leap, plot…., chase, etc. The film plays out more like a video game with dull dialogue between levels. And all the running and chasing. Makes you realize why Chuck Jones’s Road Runner cartoons are so great! They’re only seven minutes, not stretched-out over two hours! I wish I could at least praise the art direction, but the ” Colony ” is pure BLADE RUNNER meets Venice ( with the crowded neon-lit streets and constant rain ) and AFB is THE FIFTH ELEMENT with the massive, stacked skyscrapers and magnetic hover-cars ( a nod to STAR WARS EP. II there ). As for the actors, Beckinsale looks to be relishing a rare bad-girl role ( greatly expanded from Stone’s role in 1990 ). She’s a sexy future version of the unstoppable Bond hench…er…person. At least she’s having some fun! Biel and Nighy are woefully underused as the rebels while Cranston is playing a more vicious balck-hatted villain version of the oily politico we saw a few weeks ago in ROCK OF AGES. The whole flick is exhausting and overdone. Not that the original is full of subtlety. After viewing this you may wish that you got your ” a** to Mars”, or to your local video store to see the original. I bet that talking chest-head thingy looks mighty fine on Blu!
Overall Rating: 2 Out of 5 Stars