Total Recall (2012)

The new Total Recall opened today. The thing of it is – that this film isn’t at all memorable. I found myself thinking of other films that this one brought to mind. Though this film has the same title and the same source material, a Philip K. Dick short story, this is not a remake. Meaning they say it isn’t a remake. But when I recalled the original Total Recall, from 1990, which starred Ah-nuld, Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin, and Ronnie Cox as Douglas Quaid, Melina, Lori, and Cohaagen – I found that the lead four characters in this one have the same names.

Here, Douglas Quaid is played by Colin Farrell, Melina is played by Jessica Biel, Lori is performed by Kate Beckinsale, and Cohaagen is played by Bryan Cranston. We don’t learn much about any of them including Farrell’s Quaid. The story begins after a short crawl which tells us that Earth has been ravaged by chemical warfare, and there are only two places capable of sustaining life. One being the United Federation of Britain, and the other is called The Colony – but on the global map that we are shown, The Colony is Australia.

Life is nothing special on the Colony. In fact it bears a distinct resemblance to the futuristic world that we saw in Blade Runner. Neon, rain, umbrellas, and other Asian influences. Many who live on the Colony, work in the Federation and they are able to commute to work. Right – not by traveling up to space and then back in a fast quarter orbit – but by traveling via high-speed transportation vehicles which make the trip through a tunnel in the earth’s core. The trip includes super high speeds and even a portion of it has zero gravity – but takes so little time that people can make the commute twice a day.

Farrell/Quaid works on an assembly line in a factory where synthetic police are assembled. These look like a cross between the robots in I Robot, and the troopers in Star Wars. They have the fluidity of motion that a human would have, and the disposibility of the robots. However, it must be noted that the implied menace is only implied. They’re incapable of rising anywhere above the level of total ineffectiveness.

The film opens in the midst of Quaid having a nightmare, and he’s unhappy enough in his life, to try out Rekall, a place where artificial memories are created according to your desires, and implanted into your memory. Only with Quaid’s visit, something goes horribly wrong, and he has to flee for his life after a shoot out with the synthetic police. Quaid’s selection at Rekall was that of a secret agent.

Needless to say, the rest of the film has him trying to figure out what is real, what is a dream, and who he really is. “If I’m not me, then who am I?”

Biel (above) and Beckinsale (below) are the women that we meet in the film. One is his wife, and the other loves him. Yes, if your own recall is pretty decent – you will recall from the 1990 film, a three-breasted hooker. She’s here as is another repeat from the earlier film – a mysterious woman that we see at the travel/immigration check point.

But we don’t learn much about anyone. There’s a revolution or revolt underway as well as an invasion by the bad guys on The Colony. However because the film is virtually all action and has only a small amount of exposition, with next to no character development – you will find that so little has been made clear, that you don’t care about any of the characters.

The action begins early on and goes from one scene to the next – much like Farrell, Beckinsdale, and Biel jump from one rooftop to a ledge on the next building again and again, or they jump into elevator shafts repeatedly. There’s an auto chase scene only all the vehicles are hovercraft rather than vehicles that race along with wheels on pavement.

In fact all the highways, or maybe they’re more accurately described as freeways are all far above ground level. You will be reminded of Will Smith‘s vehicle in I, Robot, or Bruce Willis‘s vehicle when a he played a cabbie in The Fifth Element, or even the magnetized vehicles that were used by Tom Cruise in The Minority Report.

As I said, so much of this Total Recall seems like it has been recycled, not only from the original, but from many other sci-fi films set in the dystopian future. Farrell is good as an action hero, but his role is totally devoid of any humor. There are no Ah-nuld-like memorable quotes, and there’s no mechanical cabbies either. Everyone seemingly is deadly serious.

On the other hand, there are hardly any victims. Despite the numerous explosions, buildings that come down, auto accidents, gunfire, and grenades that are detonated – there isn’t any collateral damage at all. That is, besides the synthetic Federal Police that perish through out every action sequence.

My review will conclude with my rating the film a three point zero. It isn’t bad, the visuals are pretty decent, the action s fast and furious, however the story which is nearly paper thin to begin, is overwhelmed by the action. However, my though t is that your recollections of the film won’t be anything so special that you might like to totally recall or rewatch the film a second time.