Total RecallPosted by cinefile
Total Recall (2012), directed by Len Wiseman
Let’s start off this review by saying that I have seen the original Total Recall but it was years ago and I barely remember it. I’ve never been a big Arnold fan (more of a Sly Stallone kind of guy) and what I do remember I don’t have any fondness for, as many people seem to. I kind of want to re-watch it, now that I have seen this one, but part of me is so discouraged about the whole concept that I’m not sure I can be bothered.
Anyone want to convince me?
So this is the remake of the 1990 film. We have Colin Farrell (who I am on the record as a fan of) taking the Arnold role, a future, post-apocalypse earth instead of mars and a string of incomprehensible action sequences for what, I can only assume given my memory, were action scenes that actually made sense in the original.
I went in to the theatre really in the mood for some junky, popcorn movie escapism, but this poor excuse of a summer film failed to meet my most basic requirements for schlock fun, namely characters I care about and action scenes I can follow and understand.
The problem with this remake is that it brings absolutely nothing new to the sci-fi genre. The sets look like the director just reused the old concept drawings from Blade Runner, the story is, of course, from the original film and the characters are all the old archetypes we have seen time and time again: the ordinary man up against the system, the power hungry megalomaniac, the resistance fighter.
And it’s not that I would even mind that if the film were competently made, or even had some fun with it all, but this is just such a drab, lifeless mess it’s honestly hard to sit through.
Wiseman is the guy behind the Underworld series of films, which somehow has managed to keep going. So he’s obviously a fan of dark, rain soaked tales of future distopia. And action. Lots of dark, flashy action.
There’s plenty in Total Recall. There’s gun fights and standoffs and a hover car chase and a cat and mouse game played out in a series of tunnels with elevators flying every which way. There’s military robots and military humans and resistance fighters. The bullets and fists fly.
But right from the start you realize that the director is going for a certain action aesthetic and that it doesn’t work. Farrell takes out a room of baddies near the beginning that is shot like a slowed down fight in a video game. I mean, not just choreographically, it really looks like a video game. In my books that’s not a good thing for a film.
Things continue on like this. As Hauser (Farrell’s character…sort of) jumps from rooftop to rooftop of the slightly offensive stereotypical Oriental urban cityscape, the scene is shot from afar, showing both Farrell and his pursuers from the side. The side. It looks like a side-scroller, I swear.
And the rest of the action, including the hover-car chase, falls into that oh-so-lamentable staple of modern action: the incomprehensible action scene. You know the ones, close-ups, quick edits, blurry flashes of action, none of it making any real sense. You’re supposed to just know that some action is happening and that it’s exciting and that should be enough. Anything more, like knowing spatially where the characters are, or having any sense of actual drama in the scene, is asking too much.
One more thing: why is it okay to make Britain the facsist ruler of the future? Why not make it America? I understand that that might not sit well with Americans, but why then turn on Great Britain? Sure, we (I’m a citizen technically) did used to colonize the world, but it’s just such a lazy plot point. And when did Australia become Asian? Why not Indian, there’s just as many of them? Having it set on Mars solved all of that nonsense.
Sorry, this is turning into a rant.
This is just simply a waste of time, resources and (some) talent. I’ve been pleased with some of the remakes this summer (Spider-Man, namely), but this is one of the worst films of the year so far.
Unless you are a huge fan of the original and need to see what they’ve done (or if you’re one of those sci-fi geek weirdos that openly gets excited at seeing a woman with three breasts) check it out. All others, avoid.
Total Recall is in theatres now.