Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let us re-imagine - Total Recall

I about as much wanted to see this remade as I did another of Paul Verhoeven’s movies - Robocop, but for different reasons. Robocop is the singular greatest movie of all time and it should never be remade because nothing can be better than it period. Total Recall [1990] on the other hand is a guilty pleasure of sheer nonsense that entertains more because it’s indeed so daft it’s great and why try to do better than it as Phillip K. Dick’s original story was just as daft?

Colin Farell is our brain-fucked hero this time around and seems like a sad and pathetic character which keeps him more in line with Dick’s source material. He works at a factory in London making robot soldiers without questioning the need for millions of them like a good little boy. However he lives in Australia and instead of the nightmare that is today’s air travel he has a comfy “Fall” a sort of vertical bullet train that takes him from London [part of the United Federation of Britain] to The Colony which seems to be the entire Australian continent. These are also the only inhabited regions of the planet, the others having fallen to the ravages of nuclear war during the century. Fed up with the nature of his boring and predictable existence he goes to Rekall to have a more exciting memory implanted but unbeknown to him he already has exciting memories – those of his real life – or is it?

Underworld’s Len Wiseman does a terrific casting job with the ladies by adding his wife Kate Bekinsale as well as Jessica Biel who are suitably distracting from the many holes in this hokey plot. On the other hand Brian Cranston with a ridiculous hairpiece is easily the hammiest I’ve ever seen him as the UFB Chancellor Cohaagen who wears his body armour over his suit and leads from the front, literally. I also question Bill Nighy as the master rebel genius, whose appearance was foreshadowed throughout the whole movie to the point where the audience was "huh?" when he appeared. I must also mention Harry Gregson-Williams superb score that hopefully will lead him on to impress us all with a bit more varied set of projects now that his career with Tony Scott is sadly over.

While the design of the movies set pieces are quite extraordinary, a sight to behold, sadly the movie’s physics are even more laughable than your average sy-fy channel movie. Even when you try to fathom what could possibly survive long enough to build the Fall’s ‘track’ that close to the Earth’s flaming core [let alone drill thousands of kilometers from both ends and assuming that the different tectonic places the exit points are situated would never move again!] you would assume that knowing that halfway through the journey you experience weightlessness and a subsequent complete gravity reversal - wouldn’t it be prudent to wear magnetic boots or at least adhere yourself to a solid surface? Sorry I love sci-fi but that treats people like idiots.

Final Verdict: This new 2012 version while deeply flawed, still is almost as entertaining as it’s progenitor. It’s a convincing chase movie with dazzling special effects, daring stunts and solid performances from it’s leads. However it lacked the charm and the wit which made the original, while dated now, what it was. Total Recall 2012 will be forgotten in 20 years but even then we will still be saying “Get your ass to Mars!”

Colonel Creedon Rating: ***

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