Like his Underworld series, Len Wiseman’s Total Recall is a flashy and action-packed spectacle that attempts to distract from the fact that their director does not know how to portray human emotion. Wiseman focuses almost entirely on action sequences and portraying interesting sci-fi gadgetry and societies, but he lacks in creating an interesting narrative and engaging characters.
Wiseman focuses almost entirely on action sequences and portraying interesting sci-fi gadgetry and societies, but he lacks in creating an interesting narrative and engaging characters.
Set in the year 2084, after a disastrous third World War left most of the planet uninhabitable except for two societies: the FBR (Federation of the British Republic) and The Colony (formerly Australia). Total Recall follows Douglas Quaid (played by Colin Farrell), a factory worker who is unhappy with his mundane life, as he begins to discover that he is a sleeper agent after he goes to Rekall – a place where fake memories are implanted in clients so they can live out their fantasies. He discovers that his life is a cover, along with his wife (Kate Beckinsale), and suddenly is forced on the run and must figure out whose side he is on in the growing tensions between the two cities.
The story carries a very similar process as the original, but instead focuses on a war torn Earth as opposed to an interstellar arena. There are several nods to the original, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, throughout the film that would make fans chuckle. The idea of keeping the action on Earth, instead of Mars, probably was meant to keep the setting and premise a little more relatable, which was successful. The graphics and fight sequences of this film are impressive, but are merely advanced versions of what we have seen in the past. There is nothing new, as the film’s action elements have a Blade Runner feel that also is fused with I, Robot. That is not to say that the combat scenes, car chases, and explosive sequences were not entertaining, but not as intricate nor as clever as they could have been.
Keeping the action focused on Earth was a good idea, as was creating a story of how Earth was ravaged by war and the only habitable places are Australia and Britain who are secretly at odds. Building the concepts of the silent war between the FBR and the resistance (based in The Colony), as well as the journey Quaid takes in trying to figure out who he is was all very interesting on an intellectual level. However, there was no emotion at all given throughout the film to make any part of the film impactful. Wiseman’s remake lacks a lot of the humour, vibrant characters and the plot intricacies that made the original a classic. It felt that the film took the audiences to a place where we could have seen more of and enjoyed, but Wiseman was too short-sighted to capitalize on that opportunity. This ultimately makes this Total Recall just a ‘popcorn film’, since it does little else than to visually entertain with its explosions and fighting.
One could care less about the tension between Biel and Farrell due to the mishandling of their relationship, which begs the question: does Wiseman even know how to show any real kind of human interaction?
The characters in general were quite bland, with a slight nod to Kate Beckinsale and Colin Farrell for keeping their respective roles marginally interesting. But ultimately, it was Beckinsale, one protagonists of the film, who really held my interest, with her duplicitous and unrelenting character. Farrell does a good job in the action role, but does little else. There is a real sense of missed opportunity with his acting, as all he does is look confused throughout the film. He neither gives us a humourous view of his bizarre predicament or a terrified one. Jessica Biel had almost no depth, but her problems can be more attached to the writing of the character than to her actual portrayal. The romantic angle of the film, as well as most of the character moments from any member of the cast, is far too corny to belong to any movie past the early 90s. One could care less about the tension between Biel and Farrell due to the mishandling of their relationship, which begs the question: does Wiseman even know how to show any real kind of human interaction?
Overall, there is nothing from Total Recall that we cannot get from any number of better science fiction films. It really feels like Wiseman chose his favourite action sequences from other movies and gave it his own little twist and then wrapped it around the basic plot of the original film. The characters and story were merely tools to showcase all the impressive graphics, fights and explosions. There is nothing of substance in this film, nor anything really memorable, so do not go in expecting so.
[notification type=”star”]55/100 ~ MEDIOCRE. Wiseman’s remake lacks a lot of the humour, vibrant characters and the plot intricacies that made the original a classic.[/notification]