Film Review: Total Recall

Film Review: Total Recall

2012 SciFi action/adventure: Directed by Len Wiseman, starring: Colin Farrell, Bokeem Woodbine, and Bryan Cranston. [rated PG-13] Stars given: 3/5

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Film Review: Total Recall

While technically not a remake, it still managed to be a total bummer.

In 1990, a brilliant film was made based off of a short story by Phillip K. Dick entitled, ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,’ and it was called “Total Recall.” In 2012, director Len Wiseman made a film based off both the short story and the film it inspired. That’s right, the latest version of “Total Recall” is technically not a reboot or remake: it is a “based off” film.

In a future where the world has been rendered all but uninhabitable by war, space is scarce, cramming the majority of the remaining population into the only two great powers left: the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and The Colony. The Colony is like an anthill, with people living in tiny homes stacked on top of one another, crowding the streets, and desperate for work wherever they can find it: mostly, in factories owned by UFB. In order to get from one to the other, workers must ride “The Fall”—a ship that travels through the Earth’s core.

Douglas Quaid (played by Colin Farrell) is one such worker. His life, while happily married, is uninspired and dully repetitious.  So, when he takes a chance on a dubious drug called “rekall,” which is supposed to give you memories of the ultimate fantasy as if it really happened, he expects things to turn around. He is not disappointed.

Given the difference in years between this and the original film, it is no surprise that the main event is the visuals. The technology for graphics and effects in films are currently at their peak, even while new technological advances are being developed all the time. Movies like “Avatar” and “John Carter” allow the audience to see a futuristic world or alien planet the way the writers and directors wanted them to be seen. So, while flying cars are still a little too out of reach for the common driver, we can still see them in movies as if they had just come off the assembly line.

Unfortunately, that was ALL the film had to offer. The plot’s slow and the filmmakers tried to offset the lack of character and plot development with explosive fights and chases every five or six minutes. This wouldn’t be so bad, since it is at least entertaining, except for the fact that the constant fighting effects desensitized the audience to the whole experience, ultimately detracting from the final big climax battle.

While the cast was put together well (after all, who could play a mysterious rebel leader better than Bill Nighy?), Farrell’s performance lacked greatly in that the audience was watching his character’s memories unfold rather than experiencing the event with him.

To be fair, the film has redeeming qualities outside of its visual effects. There are two references to the original author and plenty of evidence to support either side of the ambiguous ending (was it real? Or was it “rekall”?); however, a film that is a visual banquet, but otherwise unimpressive, usually earns a generously-given 3 paws, which is exactly what “Total Recall” (2012) gets.

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