I have vague memories about seeing the original Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone. The fact that it left no lasting impression and that I could not even remember what it was about was not a good sign. That meant to me that it wasn’t so bad that the pain of having to sit through it was seared into my memory and it was so great that I could still recall every frame from the 1990 version. I did, however, have hopes for Len Wiseman’s (Live Free or Die Hard, Underworld: Evolution) update of the film due to the fact that it starred the charismatic and more talented Colin Farrell in the lead role and one of my favourite actresses, Kate Beckinsale, would be playing her first baddie. Despite the fact that I heard bad stuff about it and that it did not do so well in its threatre run I still found myself enjoying more about it than what I disliked.
At the end of the 21st century, the Earth is a totally different place from what we know. Global chemical warfare has rendered it largely inhabitable. The most valuable resource now on Earth is living space. There are now only two territories where humans live: The United Federation of Britain and the Colony. It is a miserable experience on the Colony. This is where all the poorer and working class people live. They can only get to The United Federation of Britain to work by being transported on “the fall”.
Colony resident Doug (Colin Farrell – Alexander, The Phone Booth) has been awoken by the same dream night after night. The same thing happens – he and a woman he doesn’t know are being chased, Doug is shot through the hand and has to let go of the woman. Then he wakes up. His wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale – Underworld, Pearl Harbor), begins to wonder if the reoccurring dream about being trapped and chased means that he feels trapped in their marriage.
Searching for something in his life and not sure what it is, Doug is at the point where he is about to try anything. He sees an ad by a company called Rekall. Rekall claims to be able to give you a whole new set of memories. After a night of drinking at a bar with his co-worker (Bookeem Woodbine – Ray, The Rock) instead of going home Doug goes to Rekall. From then on his life takes a serious detour. He wanted change and Doug is about to get it as nothing is as what he thought it was including himself and Lori.
Many criticized this film when it came out stating that it was a waste of time and money as it was not as good as the original version. This is unfair for a number of reasons. The best way to approach this film is as a separate entity. They are completely different films. Len Wiseman’s version focuses more on the psychology behind the whole idea of humans living in cramped quarters and not having adequate space. He also heavily explores the issue of what is real. Continuing along that path he wonders if we would then turn to different kinds of diversions in order to distract us from our unfulfilling existences that for residents of the Colony are comprised of boring factory work, constant rain, a totally grey world, and no chance for advancement. Yes, like the original there are plenty of action sequences and a three breasted prostitute, but it does not go for the cheesy one-liners like Arnold’s version did there is more a brain to this one.
Special effects have come a long way over the past 22 years so it is no surprise that the ones on this film are better; it would be unfair to compare. But Wiseman certainly does use the technology to his advantage. He has created a totally cool world and certainly is a director with his own unique vision. Visually this film is a stunner (especially in blu-ray) and the CGI effects are like porn for your eyes.
What does eventually drag the film down is the plot. Or lack thereof. There were some interesting things thrown into the soup, but they weren’t given adequate time to create something totally tasty.
Colin Farrell, though in good shape, is obviously not the physical beast that Arnold Schwarzenegger was, so he is smart to play his character differently. For the most part he does a decent job. Honestly, though, at times I just a little more je ne sais quoi from him. For me the interesting acting came from Kate Beckinsale. It was her first time as the bad guy in a role that was a combination of Sharon Stones’ and Michael Ironside’s. We already knew that she could handle the physical aspects of the role due to her turn in the Underworld series, but could she pull off being the baddie? For the most part I have to give her a thumbs up. She was so relentless in her pursuit of Doug that I almost began to think of her as a female terminator (the Arnold comparisons never stop!).
To enjoy this version of Total Recall you really cannot go in thinking of it as a remake. Rather think of it as a cover performed by Len Wiseman of a famous song only he gives it a totally different spin. It is a very different style.
-Extended Director’s Cut
-UV Digital Copy
-Total Recall: Insight Mode
-Previews of Parker, Seven Psychopaths, Resident Evil: Retribution, Men in Black 3 and Premium Rush