Thursday, August 2, 2012
Total Recall or Total Failure?
The eighties left us with a lot of cult favorite movies. The action movie genre was at an all time high and Arnold was box office gold. The story of a man with implanted memories liberating a colony on Mars became fan favorite. We fast forward more than a decade and the director of Underworld has decided to remake this sci -fi favorite.
Len Wiseman is almost Michael Bay like in the way people respond to what he does. People either love or hate his films. I am a big fan of the Underworld franchise and appreciate Wiseman's to not completely rely on C.G.I. He, like Bay, uses familiar faces from his previous films in the latest version of Total Recall. Arnold and Sharon Stone are replaced by Collin Farrel, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel.
The story is different, but the same. A common worker wakes up after a nightmare wanting more for his life. In the distant future the worlds population is nearly gone. One country and one colony remain with a giant transportation system call "The Fall," linking them together. It is essentially a train that travels through the earths core. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker married to his hot EMT wife played by Kate Beckinsale. He has friends and a simple life, but he wants more.
He goes to "Rekall," which is a spa type place that will give you the memories of any fantasy you may have. Quaid wants to be a secret agent, but unbeknown st to him he already is one. He begins to do amazing things with guns and hand to hand combat, his wife attempts to kill him, he tries to solve the mystery of his life, and all the time he doesn't know what is real or what is Rekall?
He goes on the run with the other woman in his life (Jessica Biel) and must find the leader of the resistance played by Bill Nighy (Underworld/Pirates of the Caribbean). The world is fighting for space. The majority of the planet has been ruined by radiation and space is the biggest commodity. The leader of the worlds only city is corrupt and has plan to take over. Or is he? Farrell and Biel must figure it out and stop the diabolical plan of world domination.
Does all of this work? Yes and no. I liked the decision to remove Mars from the equation. It is a better story if grounded on earth. The political issues always seem to work well in movies. The "haves" taking all they can from the "have nots" is always a good story.
The hover car sequence is fun, but I feel like I've seen it before. I did. The first time was in the Fifth Element and the second time was "Attack of the Clones." I felt like the hover car/elevator stuff was lifted directly from those films and Minority Report. I am not saying that I didn't enjoy it, but I found it a little stale.
I loved Kate Bekinsale. She was incredibly nice to look at and I believe better than Sharon Stone in the role of the fake wife. She looks great fighting and has a commanding presence. I liked her chemistry with Farrell. She even manages a few of Selene's moves ala Underworld minus the skin tight latex.
Jessica Biel doesn't seem to fit here. I enjoyed her in the A-Team, but this felt a little more like Next.
She wasn't horrible, but she just doesn't come across as a hardened resistance fighter. She is OK, but there are other actresses that I think would've worked better here.
Collin Farrell is good. I don't believe any one could be Arnold and Farrell doesn't try to be. He is good in the fight scenes and plays the part. I think the action could've been better. It's good, but the fight coordination is so much stronger in The Bourne movies and in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The scenes here are OK, but they just lack the punch of the previously mentioned film.
Wiseman does a good job of paying respect to the original. The "3-breasted" hooker, the Recall Process, some of the gadgets are there. I wished there would've been an "Arnold" cameo, but we can't get everything we want. I think Wiseman created a very cool world. The look was fantastic and he successfully made a big world seem smaller. The "Synthetic Police" worked well and the effects were decent.
The movie isn't bad. It lacked something. I didn't have fun. I wasn't bored. I laughed a little, but I didn't feel connected to any particular character. Maybe I wasn't supposed to? I think this summer was ruined by the Avengers. It was so good that many other films failed by comparison. My friend Aaron pointed that out and I have to agree. I liked Battleship,Prometheus, and now Total Recall. Good films not great ones. I feel like this will get thrashed by critics and it's not that bad. Total Recall would have been a solid film in February, but I am not sure it works as a summer blockbuster.