Saturday, August 04, 2012
TOTAL RECALL (Dir. Len Wiseman, 2012)
With its dark rainy dystopian cityscape full of video-billboards, flying cars, cyberpunk people with neon umbrellas, and Asian architecture, one could be forgiven for thinking in the first five minutes that this is a remake of a different Philip K. Dick adaptation: BLADE RUNNER.
But then what little plot there is kicks in and we are stuck inside this big over-caffeinated mess of a movie that’s a much looser take on the 1966 short story (“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”) than the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenneger/Paul Verhoeven version.
In this one, which takes place in 2084 (the same year the ’90 one was), Colin Farrell plays Doug Quaid, a robot factory assembly line worker married to Kate Beckinsale, who decides to give a memory-implanting service, the Rekall company, a whirl.
Things get all screwy and the secret agent vacation he’s purchasing reveals that he actually is a secret agent named Hauser, a bad ass who didn’t even know he was (see: Jason Bourne) that can kick the asses of legions of robo-cops.
So from there it’s essentially a bunch of high octane fight and chase sequences tied together by the thin thread of what used to be a cool sci-fi scenario.
Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston livens things up a bit, but his role as the evil Prime Minister who is after Farrell is as generically written as every other element here. Of course, Cranston has a convoluted political plan to, uh, let’s just say to rule the planet and become the all-being master of time, space and dimension. Yeah, let’s go with that.
Jessica Biel, who obviously has the same hair dresser as Beckinsale, who is just here to add more sexy acrobatics to this only action-minded atrocity.
A major sequence that features a chase through a ginormous elevator system made of accelerating cubicles gets close to being exciting, but the clutter of fast-acting CGI and overabundance of washed out looking backgrounds kept me from being in the moment with the characters.
To be fair, Farrell does a good job with what he’s given. He’s a guy that gets more interestingly nuanced as he gets older - I really hope to see him in something more interesting soon.
The humorless nature of this movie is disheartening because the 1990 original had a satisfying satirical spark to it, and it had the smarts to keep the sleaziness at bay until the second half on Mars.
This one doesn’t go to Mars, but this starts off sleazy - for example the infamous three-breasted prostitute (yeah, no way they could leave her out) is brought out much earlier. Why wait, right?
One of the biggest laughs in the whole movie was in the first few seconds when the name of one of the production companies appeared: Original Film. Yeah, as if!
Never thought I’d laud a over 2 decades old somewhat schlocky Schwarzegger movie so much, but before this new Wiseman-helmed waste - the Verhoeven version wasn’t close to being a classic.
After seeing this though, it sure as hell looks like one.