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Total Recall (2012) (DVD)
Member Name: Jarisleif
Total Recall (2012) (DVD)
Advantages: Biel and Beckinsale
Disadvantages: Where do I start?
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film is 118 minutes in length and stars Colin Farrell ("Alexander", "Phone Booth", "Minority Report") as Douglas Quaid / Carl Hauser, Kate Beckinsale ("Underworld", "Pearl Harbor", "Van Helsing") as Lori Quaid, and Jessica Biel ("Next", "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry", "The Illusionist") as Melina.
The plot for the film reads as follows: A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall - a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led - goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.
Just 22 years after the original came out which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin, we're given a remake. I'm not a fan of remakes at all and rarely have I liked any I've seen, so it's safe to say that I'm not going to like the revamped version of "Total Recall", right? Well, I went in with eyes wide open but at the same time, not very hopeful of what I was about to watch. Differences between the two are strikingly obvious. In the 1990 version we had the action taking place on Earth and on Mars, while the 2012 version is set in a futuristic UFB (United Federation of Britain, seemingly taking in the majority of the world) and The Colony, which appears to be Australia. Both are adapted from Philip K. Dick's short story, "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale", which was first published in 1966. Is it any good? Let's find out!
Doug Quaid works on a production line making robots which look uncannily like Stormtroopers from "Star Wars" for police use led by UFB Chancellor, Vilos Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) and gets to work via "The Fall", a gravity elevator seemingly travelling through the Earth. The first very silly - and very illogical - idea of the film and we've only just started. There are other things in the film which made me yawn at the idiocy of such a thing or laugh at the lunacy of another. One of those was a scene where Hauser and Melina are attempting to escape the police and while Colin Farrell's character is visibly battered, bruised and sweaty, Melina, played by Jessica Biel, hasn't even a hair out of place without one bead of sweat on her brow. During that scene, the hand-held pistols which were being used looked like plastic toys you get for 99p in Poundworld or somewhere similar and not very convincing at all.
Other things that caught my eye for the wrong reasons included glowing tattoos which look incredibly stupid and you can't imagine anyone wanting one, now or in the future. Another scene shows Hauser using his hand as a phone and video call, which is a little too much sci-fi technology but neat all the same. And why bother putting a bulletproof vest on Harry if he's that close to Hauser and Melina. They could easily put a bullet in his head which is exactly what happened, therefore bypassing the need for a vest. Now I'm no ballistics expert, but if you spray bullets down a square-shaped corridor at two people about 50ft away, you're going to hit them before they hit the floor, right? Not in this film, because our two heroes can dive on the floor faster than it takes them to hear bullets fired from a chamber to the bullets whizzing over their heads.
I'm not done yet! If you have flying cars, why hover around roads high in the sky that must have cost a lot of money to build to get where you are going? Surely the technology must have been there to put imaginary lines or something. If they can create a refrigerator that has a touch screen for digital notes, then laser beams for 'skyroad' markings must be a doddle. Speaking of the roads you have the whole of the United Federation of Britain - which is a very expansive part of the world - to choose from, and when Hauser freefalls the car out of the shy and lands it wish a crash, we're treated to a backdrop of the Houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Tower (which houses Big Ben). Can you imagine the odds on that happening? Yeah, me neither. There is a scene with elevators which are a carbon copy of the mechanisms for the cult film, "Cube", which I really enjoyed by the way, and recommend a lot more than this!
But there are good points, it has to be said. The Eyeball was an awesome tool, firing out many cameras in different places as it exploded in the room, giving many angles of vision for the breaching team. In the original when Hauser went through the scanner he was a portly woman with red hair. In this version, someone who looks like her goes through and Quaid is the guy behind in disguise. She even tells the officers that she's there for three weeks just like she does in the original film before Schwarzenegger's character malfunctions. I really wish I could think of other stand-out moments, but to be quite honest, I can't.
To cast Colin Farrell in the main role as Doug Quaid / Carl Hauser is a strange one and I'm not entirely sure he filled the big boots of Arnold Schwarzenegger who previously played the double role, but then again I can't think of anyone who could. I think the director just wanted a face to fit the role rather than go for a guy of Arnie's size and there's nothing wrong with that, but Farrell has a knack of heavily breathing after every sentence, no matter if he's exhausted from running around or not. It is believed that Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy were both considered for the role.
Kate Beckinsale would look good in tramp clothes, and in her role as Lori Quaid she excels to the limit. The main question I was asking myself was "is she better than Sharon Stone in this role?" and the answer is probably yes, she is. The likes of Kate Bosworth, Eva Mendes and Diane Kruger were considered for the role, but the British actress manages to put a little glamour and glitz into the film, even if the film itself is a little dull. Likewise with Jessica Biel, who, for some parts, made me forget what I was watching because she has that natural glow which can stop people in their tracks. I much preferred her to Rachel Ticotin in the original and Eva Mendes, Rosario Dawson and Paula Patton were all linked with the role of Melina.
As great an actor as Bill Nighy is, he just cannot pull off an American accent. In fact, I thought it might have been an idea to switch the roles of Biel and Beckinsale around and have them both speak their native tongues throughout. Beckinsale does switch once her cover as Quaid's wife is blown, though. But then again, I'm not sure Jessica Biel could have pulled off the high-energy stuff that Kate Beckinsale was doing as Lori. It was nice to see Bill Nighy working with Kate Beckinsale again as both had previously been together for "Underworld", which was also directed by Len Wiseman. Casting Bryan Cranston as Cohaagen could have been a master stroke. I'm a huge "Breaking Bad" fan and thought he'd be brilliant, but I didn't even recognise him until it was over and his role is very limited.
The score gives the impression that it is action packed, though it really doesn't feel like it half the time because of all the over-the-top tech stuff, and most of that just doesn't work. There is some good CGI but the original was much better for me. This is a little too mechanical in design and looks ugly from the onset. I'm also not impressed with the UFB nonsense either. With the potential to show Mars in a different light, the director fails in his job and the writers should have been instructed to go back to the drawing board and come up with something else. I realise this review has been a little bit of a rant but in all honesty, I'm pointing out the many things which are wrong with the film and if you take those out of it, it wouldn't be too bad. So in theory, just watch the original version. You'll thank me for it!
What the Critics Say:
Tampa Bay Times: "Farrell's diction is a noticeable upgrade from Schwarzenegger's but there's also his superior portrayal of sweaty apprehension and killer instinct."
Movieline: "The two films have the same underlying bone structure, sure, but this new Total Recall is made of more serious, more humorless stuff. It looks simultaneously lavish and interchangeable in its explosions and shoot-em-ups with a dozen other recent action movies, and in its sci-fi stylings with a dozen others in the genre."
Rolling Stone: "Since the new Recall is totally witless, don't expect laughs. Originality and coherence are also notably MIA."
Wall Street Journal: "The remake has no grace notes, or grace, no nuance, no humanity, no character quirks, no surprises in the dialogue and no humor."
The New York Times: "This premise contains the seeds of an interesting economic and political allegory, but the ambitions of the filmmakers - lie in the direction of maximum noise and minimum sense."
My rating: 2/10
Summary: A complete letdown. Just buy the original.