Barrett’s Review: ‘Total Recall’ is Unimaginative, Processed Hollywood At Its FinestBy
I haven’t seen the original Total Recall since I was in like 8th grade, and I didn’t get around to re-watching it prior to the new 2012 remake starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale and directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld). Regardless of the unfortunate lack of detailed comparisons that I can make, I know a bad movie when I see one, and man is this a bad movie; thus I will speak to it on its own merits. I haven’t been so bored with a shoot-em-up sci-fi thriller in quite some time. The lack of imagination with such an inherently imaginative concept (via the mind of sci-fi master Philip K. Dick) is quite astounding. This flick is an utter snooze-fest that you should try to avoid at all costs.
The main problem with this film is the script. No doubt about it. The production value is top-notch, featuring fantastic visual effects and production design to aesthetically paint the picture of this story that the script completely failed to do with words. The dialogue is just laughable at times, even cringe-worthy. For a tiny backdrop, Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a seemingly everyday working man in the semi-distant future, and while he’s got an amazingly hot wife (Kate Beckinsale) and a steady job, something is “missing” in his life. Quaid is thus utterly attracted to the promise of “Recall,” the mysterious/controversial procedure that plants memories in your mind that allow you to experience your wildest fantasies. But will tampering with such sensitive areas of life bring about more than he bargained for? Is he even who he thinks he is? “What is Real?” (film’s tagline).
Anyway, before going to Recall for the first time, Quaid is leaving the bar with his buddy from work. Actually, these guys are REALLY good friends. They know a lot about each other. These sentiments are attempted to be filtered through this atroucsious gauze of a heartfelt/comedic parting exchange that made me grit my teeth because the words coming out of their mouths were so bad. This virus infected the entire film, thus makinging it impossible to take the film or contrived character dynamics seriously whatsoever. Then we have Farrell, who strolls through his constantly hysteria-centric lines with eye-rolling conviction and over-the-top hyperbole.
Ah yes…Colin. Let’s just give a quick head shaking to Colin Farell. As Borden says to the packed theater in The Prestige after humiliating Angier:
“Do go easy on the poor chap…he does try so bloody hard.”
I really try to like Colin Farell. He has acting ability, and is a good-looking, cut bro. The seemingly perfect mix for an A-list movie star. I mean, there are A-listers who are uglier with amazing talent, and those who look like Greek Gods, but can’t act for shit. And yet there’s something about Farrell that I just can’t put my finger on, but he seemingly just can’t carry an entire film on his back. He looks great on paper, but can’t deliver in the clutch. While a portion of this inability to, in my opinion, “connect with the audience,” surely has to do with the plethora of bad scripts he’s chosen (this film being right at the top), it’s his job to dig deep and conjure up conviction and emotion that resonates with moviegoers, even if there isn’t any via the words on the page. Unfortunately in Total Recall, he just can’t.
There’s honestly not much else to say and I’d be wasting mine your time by trying to analyze or pick apart any more of this film, but here are a some rapid fire tidbits that sum up the rest of my thoughts on the remake of Total Recall:
- Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale are obviously great to look at, but feel ridiculous in their respective roles.
- Because of the film’s atrocious script, the great Bryan Cranston becomes a laughing stock as the sinister “take over the world” villain, delivering side-splitting lines of intended menace.
- The PG-13 rating totally hurt this film (the original was almost rated X, but was then re-edited to be R). Thanks, suits.
What Should You Do? Don’t bother. And if you do, wait to stream on Netflix, or something when you literally have nothing else to do.