Of all the films to be remade, why choose the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Total Recall? Hollywood seems to remake cult classics, rip them off, or take something fun back in the day and make it their own creation. However, you just come off as a hack director
Len Wiseman is no different and his take on Total Recall was an fun but ultimately forgettable ride.
I’m going to just tell you right off the bat. There is no Mars, no one liners, and it’s rated PG-13.
Based off the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale” The 1990 original was the best because of its mix of satirical humor, awesome special effects, and nostalgic old school action sequences. This Total Recall strips away the satire, forgot to coordinate a key element to its story, however the special effects are outstanding and solid action sequences.
Now I will give this to them. In the short story, there is no Mars. Nope, that was all director Paul Verhoeven’s own idea.
Colin Farrell is Doug Quaid this time around and there are only two countries left surviving on Earth. The Colony and the United Federation of Britain under control by Chancellor Cohaggen played with always a sneer by the terrific Bryan Cranston. The Colony is overpopulated, dirty, and for people below the poverty line just looking for survival. Quaid doesn’t have it too bad, I mean he’s married to the stunningly beautiful Lori (played by a convincing Kate Beckinsale) and he’s working on an assembly line fixing security robots. One day though, he wants to experience something different and heads to Rekall where they are known for their mind-tripping dreams for their clients. There was a wink to the audience when the secretary tells Quaid, “Remember to have a good time.” It was like preping the audience for a thrilling ride. We get a too brief cameo by John Cho, known for Harold in the Harold and Kumar trilogy who explains about the Secret Agent package that Quaid was all in for. Suddenly, things go wrong and Quaid is now a fugitive on the run, after kicking ass he heads back home to tell Lori until she tries to kill him. As an audience, we have to see what is real and what is fantasy? I was in on it for about an hour.
Quaid and Lori begin the barrage of action sequences to come with a excellent hand to hand combat and a chase beautifully shot by Wiseman as they are jumping off roofs, crashing through windows and jumping down to alleyways. She is like the T-1000 from T2 going after Quaid, she’s fast moving, a track runner and has obviously work in combat tactics because she is a killing machine even though Cohaggen wants Quaid alive. Then we get to the scene where he finally meets Melina, the woman (played by Jessica Biel) of his dreams literally, because its how the film starts. They are on the trail to stop Cohaggen’s dictatorship of his metropolis and save the day. Sounds familiar? Of course it is!
The screenplay by Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard) and Kurt Wimmer kept me intrigued with it’s smart story line until in the second half when the action becomes the center point of the film and dismisses the intrigue and becomes forgettable. While the action is impressive, it just felt like they didn’t know how to make their point. Making Lori into a killing machine was an intriguing idea, but I felt like it was a sci-fi version of the Fugitive. Where’s Tommy Lee Jones when you need him? Also, if you remember that Cohaggen is an key point of the whole story so why wait til the last 20 minutes to introduce him, it just felt like an extended cameo. Cranston really makes the most of his character. However, the special effects were awe-inspiring especially Paul Cameron’s cinematography, solid performances and some kick-ass sequences make this a fun time at the movies but you’ll forget it as soon as the credits roll.
I do have one question. Where the hell was Benny, our cab driver? I wanted to hear that line, “I’ve got five kids to feed!” Damn, that was memorable. Oh, well. Total Recall is an 118 minute dream that you’ll forget as soon as you jump awake, but at least you’ll remember Beckinsale.
Total Recall gets a B-
I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely at the theater.