Hollywood seems to be making a living on remakes lately. This could most likely, as John Goodman says in a recent trailer, to do half the work and take all the credit for it. Regardless this weekend we have Total Recall, a remake of an Arnold Schwarzenegger film of the same name. Now talking with many friends and fans, there was a lot of concern about remaking such a “classic film”, yet the action of the movie held great promise to hold my attention, especially with Miss Action herself Kate Beckinsale being a headliner for the movie. Did it deliver this and other surprises, or was it merely a “dream” that the trailers implanted in my mind to get me to spend money? Read on to find out.
The plot of this movie has been edited somewhat from Schwarzenegger’s story, in which Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a depressed factory worker living in the slums of a transformed Earth. Years of chemical warfare have left only two places in the world habitable, which naturally means one side rich and one side poor, sound familiar like say Hunger Games? Anyway one night in an attempt to escape the harsh reality, Quaid goes to ReKall a place where memories can be implanted to make you live your dreams. Unfortunately something horrible goes wrong, and soon a chase to bring the supposed outlaw in begins.
The first thing that might come to mind is where in the world is the Mars atmosphere and the mutants? Well with the exception a three boobed woman, yes she is still in there guys, all of that has been replaced with a post apocalyptic Earth. That’s right the red foreboding deserts and caves have been replaced with rather impressive cities that look like something out of George Lucas’ mind, i.e. Coruscant from the Star Wars prequels. While the sleek and polished cities are rather impressively designed and polished, they still aren’t equivalent to the alien landscape we so much loved in the original movie. Regardless Len Wiseman and crew did a decent job directing the extras and actors to integrate with the digital art, and kept the environment evolving as the movie continued to go.
Moving away from the scenery though, let’s talk about the highlight of this movie: the action. Yes despite having a rather linear storyline and some pretty shallow characters, this movie is all about high speed adrenaline and ridiculous chases. From scene 1 of the movie, one will know that the movie is going to be lots of lights, running, and some gunplay. Most of the action involves lots of running or fast driving that are similar to the action scenes in Minority Report. The futuristic cars and pistol shots lead Farrell and Jessica Biel ducking more than acting, which gets stale after a while. About halfway through the movie though Biel and Farrell’s characters finally get the courage to fire back and start actually shooting against their attackers. While its impressive that they can wield prop guns and react to fake bullet wounds, there really aren’t that many impressive fight scenes in the movie. The exception to this would be a brief cat fight between Biel and Beckinsale, where the former vampires shows off some of her acrobatic moves to beat the tears out of Biel. Aside from that, the action is more about the cast running away from the white artificial police force, cough Clone troopers cough, while Beckinsale continues to fire shots and stare at the camera.
While the action may not have been the style I was looking for, there was another aspect to this movie that was impressive, the gadgets. Like a futuristic bond movie, Total Recall has some clever integration of spy gadgetry at their disposal. Cellular phones integrated in their hands, the ability to pull up view screens by touching glass, and many more technological wonders fill this movie to the brim. Although they weren’t as deadly as some of London’s finest treats, they were well integrated into the movie to help keep the plot going, as well as to throw the audience into a loop as to whether the experience was real or not. Yet, some of the gadgets were actually rather hastily introduced, or had no meaning to their use, but in this kind of movie I guess you don’t need a reason. Now are half of these gadgets original? The answer to that question is not really as we’ve had countless movies do the same technological feats that this film does. In fact there are a lot of things about this movie that are obvious references to other science fiction works like the Matrix and did I mention Star Wars. However, the delivery is still smoother than Beckinsale’s flowing hair, and I have to appreciate the effort they have made to impress.
Total Recall is not a bad remake. With some fast paced scenes, nice graphics, and a chance to see to lovely ladies run across the screen it does have its high points. However, the bar was set pretty high on the classic film, and this movie just didn’t reach the promised potential. Those looking for a vague ending will get their demands met, as like the first film you still haven’t figured out if it is real. Yet, the one dimensional characters, the lack of exciting gun play, and the fact that Farrell’s character seems to have endless adrenaline is just not enough to recommend a trip to the theater. My scores for the movie are below:
Movie Overall: 6.0