Reviewed by: Russell Emory
|Featuring:|| Colin Farrell … Doug Quaid/Hauser
Kate Beckinsale … Lori
Bryan Cranston … Vilos Cohaagen
Jessica Biel … Melina
Bill Nighy … Matthias Lair
John Cho … McClane
|Director:||Len Wiseman—“Live Free or Die Hard,” “Underworld: Awakening,” “Underworld: Evolution,” “Underworld”|
|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures|
“Is it real. Is it recall.”
I have heard many people make the statement that Hollywood is running out of original ideas. If you were to look at the slate of upcoming movies and see the absurd number of book adaptations, sequels, and reboots, one would have to agree. This would bring us to Hollywood’s most recent reboot offering, “Total Recall.” But wait! Not only is “Total Recall” a reboot of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger film, but it is based on the Philip K. Dick short Story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” While Hollywood has been making films of PKD’s work for years (“Minority Report,” “Paycheck,” “Adjustment Bureau,” and “Blade Runner”) this is the first reboot of a PKD inspired work.
The world in “Total Recall” is divided into two nation states: The United Federation of Britain, and the Colony. The UFB encompasses the British Isles and most of Western Europe, while the Colony is the continent of Australia. Citizens of the UFB and the Colony travel to each location via a super-massive gravity elevator called “The Fall.” “The Fall” travels through the center and core of the Earth in a span of about twenty minutes.
Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a factory worker from the Colony. Every day he travels via “The Fall” to work in the UFB, building peacekeeper robots. Doug is becoming very bored with his life and is having violent nightmares featuring a mysterious woman (Jessica Biel) who is not his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale). Trying to escape his boredom, Doug frequents an establishment that specializes in implanting false memories into people’s brains called Rekall. Doug wants to have memories of being a spy. While there, some of Doug’s memories are accessed, and the proprietor McClane (John Cho) accuses Doug of being a real spy. The establishment is raided, and Doug begins to act instinctively and takes out the armed soldiers. Doug returns home to find that his wife is not his wife, and his life is not his life.
Morally speaking, this movie leaves the viewer wondering if the MPAA has relaxed its rules regarding PG-13 ratings. There is a two to five second glimpse of a topless three breasted woman. The s-word is spoken almost 40 times in the feature, as well as the Lord’s name used as an explicative almost 12 times (G-D and J-C). The f-word is uttered once, and a combination of a-hole and SOB almost 10 times. The combination of brief nudity, language, and non-stop action violence makes one wonder if R would have been more of an appropriate rating.
The movie postures itself a bit when there is a lull between the action and chase scenes characters are breaking into philosophical soliloquies about identity and perception. There is no mention in the film of God or gods, so it lends itself to humanist philosophies more so in the realm of secular Humanism, rather than the religious branch. Many conversations in the movie hearken back to the 1999 film “The Matrix,” although not as thought provoking or well acted.
If you insist on seeing this movie, I do warn that the scene where Doug goes to ReKall in the “red light district” of the Colony and is propositioned by the three breasted woman is quick, but it is still there. Also, I do warn that the profanity is excessive. The chase and fight scenes are intense and very well executed and choreographed. Although, the actors seem to be posing after every fight or stunt sequence, which this reviewer found almost cheesy.
While the stunt work and special effects are top notch, it does not make up for lack of story and character development. Doug is a fairly well developed character, but his relationship with Melina (Jessica Biel) is hollow. There is no chemistry between them, and it is a real question as to whether it is Farrell and Biel’s fault or the writers. Overall, there is just a subpar performance by all actors involved.
I am hesitant to recommend this movie, due many factors, but taking out the amoral material, it’s just not that good of a movie. The actors are hollow, there is little character development, and there is no connection between the actors on screen. All the special effects and action sequences in the world can’t make up for what this movie lacks. If you absolutely have to see this movie, wait till it comes on basic cable, at least that way the nudity and a good majority of the profanity will be edited out.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.