Director: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckensdale, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy.
Written by: Mark Bomback, (also screen story) Kurt Wimmer, (screen story) Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Jon Povill (short story) Philip K. Dick.
Running Time: 118 mins
Release date: 29th August 2012
In 1990, Paul Verehoeven’s sci-fi classic Total Recall hit our screens. This was an inventive, clever, action-packed thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that was a rarity for blockbusters at the time; one that kept the fans of explosions and violence happy while at the same time including a storyline so twisted, you literally had to think while enjoying it’s bonkers tale of a man who could be a spy who has to visit Mars to stop an evil mastermind. It was brutal, it was shocking, it was also quite funny but it never treated its audience like idiots.
Not the same can be said about this pointless remake, which replaces Arnie with Colin Farrell and a story that is so basic, even a child of five could work out what’s going to happen. In fact, this is a film that takes every inch of what made the original so entertaining…and throws it out the window for just plain blandness.
Douglas Quaid is an ordinary worker in a time where there are only two places left on the Earth, Australia and Britain. A huge tunnel connecting the two worlds help the populus from travelling from one place to another. Quaid, bored with his own existance, wants something more and is persuaded to visit ReKall Inc, a company that can implant dreams. Something goes wrong and it turns out that Doug isn’t who he thinks he is. He is a spy sent to destroy a corrupt politican who wants to wipe out Australia and its people in order to rule Britain. Doug now has to go on the run, being chased by the woman he believed was his wife but who now wants him dead.
Although based on a Philip K. Dick short story, director Len Wiseman (the man responsible for the original Underworld films and Die Hard 4) and his production team decide to use its impressive sets like a low-grade copy of another Dick story, Blade Runner. Filling the screen with Asian neon and pouring rain, I knew I was going to an unoriginal movie but never expected it to be this unoriginal.
Stripping away the more complex subplots of the first film was also a mistake, for what we have left is a glorified 2 hour chase movie. Farrell, who is perfectly fine as Quaid (and I have to mention this for the sake of my friend…ladies, he takes his shirt off three times!) but there is no character development whatsoever. He just runs around being chased by his wife and a team of soliders/police who look like rejects from I, Robot, looking confused as to why they are chasing him and how he is managing to escape all the time.
Then there are the ladies. Mrs Len Wiseman, Kate Beckinsdale, gets the better of the deal. Playing Quaid’s wife, she is allowed to look mean and moody while kicking and punching everything that moves. She is one woman not to mess with and she does it well. Jessica Biel, as Quaid’s only real ally, gets the raw deal. One moment she’s has tough as nails, the next she’s a damsel in distress waiting for Farrell to save her. Bryan Cranston gets a neat wig and to play evil as the corrupt politician while Bill Nighy also appears in a blink-and-you-will-almost miss him cameo.
It’s all well and good if you want a two hour shoot ’em up but those looking for a film to equal the original will be sorely bored, as I was. It’s 30 minutes too long and the main thing it lacks more than anything is Arnie’s witty one-liners. this is completely devoid of humour (apart from one nod to Verhoeven’s film where a woman looking pretty familiar from the first film pops up and, of course, the three breasted woman!) Where’s the pithy quips once someone has been killed? Nope, they don’t exist. As does the violence. Arnie’s film was rated 18, this is a 12A and although it has watered down some of the violence, it is still, for that rating, very violent so be warned.
Remakes shouldn’t make you long for the original. this one certainly did for me.