Josh Wilding Reviews: TOTAL RECALL
Released in UK cinemas today, Total Recall is a surprisingly solid remake which most definitely doesn't deserve some of the negative backlash it received on the other side of the pond. Hit the jump for my spoiler-free verdict on the Len Wiseman helmed film!
I've never watched the original Total Recall. There's no particular reason why, it's just one of those films that I haven't had chance to check out. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed Len Wiseman's remake so much, although even if you are one of the many fans of the Paul Verhoeven helmed 1990 classic, there's no reason why you can't still have some fun with this version. Despite the impressive team of Kurt Wimmer (Salt 2) and Mark Bomback (The Wolverine) being credited for the screenplay, there are unfortunately some instances of less than stellar dialogue. It's also far from the most intricate and clever examples of writing, and despite the fact that there are more than a few predictable and unconvincing moments scattered throughout, the story is still a solid one. A little more humour would have been nice, but there are actually enough fantastic sequences which more than make up for the few times it stumbles. Some of the characters are underwritten (what looked set to be a crucial role for Bill Nighy's 'Matthias' is boiled down to little more than a few minutes of mostly inconsequential screen time) but this doesn't matter too much when almost the entire film is from the perspective of one person.
That person is of course Colin Farrell's 'Douglas Quaid', and the actor does a great job with what he has to work with. As the anchor who holds Total Recall together, Farrell seems perfectly suited to the role, and is excellent in portraying a man who is in as complex and confusing a situation as 'Quaid' is. As you will have already seen from the trailers, there's more to Kate Beckinsale's 'Lori' than meets the eye, and the beautiful actress makes for a fine nemesis, even if she is a little too indestructible and Terminator-esque. Jessica Biel's 'Melina' isn't quite as impressive, but that's not entirely her fault as the relationship between her and Farrell's character isn't explored in quite enough depth to make it as convincing as it otherwise could have been. At first, it appears that Bryan Cranston won't have much of a role at all as the villainous 'Cohaagen', but the brilliant actor thankfully gets a lot of time in the third act to really show off his stuff (even if it isn't quite up there with his work on Breaking Bad). Bokeem Woodbine ('Harry') is a pleasant surprise, and actually takes part in one of THE best scenes in the film with Farrell and Biel despite some fairly unconvincing exchanges with the former earlier in the film.
From a visual standpoint, Total Recall is absolutely stunning. The world that Len Wiseman has created (almost all of which is CGI) is incredible and never fails to convince. Whether it's the glossier "United Federation of Britain" or the gritty and urban "Colony", both fictional locations feel alive and very, very real. This also applies to the synthetic police force who play a prominent role in the film, and the effects are in fact so impressive that it would be a crying shame not to see the remake nominated for the 'Academy Award for Best Visual Effects' next year. The action sequences are all extremely thrilling, while fight sequences are also well shot. Wiseman actually does a fantastic job all in all and with the right script, it's hard to imagine him not coming up with something VERY special in the future. However, Total Recall, while great fun and a visual spectacle, isn't quite that film. There's no real reason not to check out the remake, especially as it's easily one the better action flicks to be released this summer, but it never quite reaches the benchmark set this year by other superior blockbusters.
While it may not be the most essential of remakes, Total Recall is one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012 and a solid action/sc-fi blockbuster with great direction, an impressive cast and incredible special effects. Great fun from start to finish.
Click HERE to read my interview with Total Recall director Len Wiseman.
Total Recall is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police - controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world - Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.
Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid
Jessica Biel as Melina
Kate Beckinsale as Lori
Bill Nighy as Kuato
Bryan Cranston as Vilos Cohaagen
John Cho as McClane
RELEASE DATE: Out Now
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