Prepare for non-stop and pulse-pounding excitement in this “electrifying thrill ride” (Jeff Craig, Sixty Second Preview). Colin Farrell stars as Douglas Quaid, a factory worker who visits Rekall, a revolutionary company that can turn his superspy fantasies into real memories. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, the line between fantasy and reality blurs as Quaid becomes a man on the run and the fate of his world hangs in the balance. Co-starring Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston.
The most obvious problem with this Total Recall remake is that there was no reason to make it. The Arnold Schwarzenegger version from 1990 still holds up fine (save for a few dodgy model shots) and unless the filmmakers had something really original to offer – they don’t – there was absolutely no reason to bother, especially with that $125 million price tag in mind.
It’s impossible to watch this version of Total Recall without a perpetual sense of déjà vu. During the film’s best moments it’s never more than an inferior copy of the original film, and when it’s at its worst, it’s a gleeful embrace of every summer blockbuster cliché in the book, presented with a stunning lack of originality or self-awareness.
Very little in this film works, from the opening flashback/dream, to the preposterously unrealistic sci-fi concepts (traveling through the Earth? Come on). They even included the hooker with three tits, seemingly without realizing why she was so inflicted in the 1990 version. Colin Farrell is a decent enough action star, but he doesn’t have much to add to the role, frankly he looks bored. Beckinsale and Biel look their parts, they’re sexy as hell, and they can kick ass with the best of them, but they never pull off the dual personalities Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin managed in the original. Even more criminally, Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy are completely wasted, and might as well have been played by empty toilet rolls.
Still, the film is not a complete loss. The action scene are very good and energetic, the production design is often quite impressive, the updated gadgets suitably cool, and generally the film looks like a billion bucks. Unfortunately, there’s just no passion behind it, no desire to tell an interesting story or wow the audience. And worse: No brains.
When we reach the final showdown, which turns out to be the film’s biggest disappointment, displaying a mind-numbing lack of ambiguity, the film pulls of its only truly amazing trick: It makes Arnold look intelligent and sophisticated.
Audio & Video:
The film was shot primarily on the Red Epic digital camera, and most of the shots feature some kind of digital enhancement, and everything has been heavily digitally color-graded. In short the images look pretty much flawless, but also very artificial.
The sound is solid, with good surround effects and a good balance between dialogue and sound effects. I never had to turn the volume up or down when the film shifted between action and quiet scenes.
This edition comes with 2 Blu-ray discs and a DVD. Disc 1 features both the theatrical cut (which was the one I saw) and the extended cut of the film, the latter with a commentary from director Len Wiseman, and a few extras. Second Blu-ray disc features even more extras, all in glorious HD. The BD discs are region free. A decent enough package.
- Theatrical cut (1:58:18) / Director’s cut (2:10:02)
- Audio commentary with Len Wiseman (only on DC)
- Insight Mode
- Total Action (20:00)
- Gag Reel (8:00)
- Stepping into Recall: Pre-visualization Sequences (25:30)
- Science Fiction vs. Science Fact (9:28)
- Designing the Fall (2:55)
For all its flaws, I still somewhat enjoy watching this Total Recall. It looks good, there’s plenty of action, hot babes, and I get a warm fuzzy feeling from knowing that I could write every single scene better in my sleep. It’s the perfect film to pop in on a lazy Sunday afternoon, while you’re semi-passed out on the couch. You can yell Arnold lines at the screen every time that humorless Farrell guy shows up, while you chuckle at its pointlessness.
“Get your ass to Mars, Colin!”
Movie: D+ (C+ on a Sunday afternoon)
Extra Features: B