Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel in a scene from the movie Total Recall.
Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel in a scene from the movie Total Recall. Michael Gibson - Sony Pictures media

Movie review: Total Recall

LIKE a sucker punch to the senses there is nothing subtle about this Total Recall remake.

Philip K. Dick's short story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, upon which the original film was based, has been bulldozed into oblivion with only the bare concept weaved amongst scene after scene of flashy, frantic action.

Like Arnie before him, Colin Farrell plays Douglas Quaid, a factory working living an unsatisfactory life in the latter half of the 21st century.

He commutes to work from the Colony via a gravity elevator that travels through the Earth's core but he dreams of something more.

Bewitched by the promise of living his dream through the use of fantasy memories he heads along to Rekall but things go horribly wrong and the confused Quaid is confronted with the concept he is not who he thinks he is after being previously implanted with false memories.

The original source material played with the trippy notion of reality and fantasy, meshing the idea that our fantasies might be rooted in reality.

But here the plot has been dumbed down, stripped back, wit removed and what we are left with is a vacuous and showy film that does little to question nor make the audience question, just what is real and what is not.

Rather than playing with the clever trippyness and nuances of the concept, director Len Wisemen plays it straight opting for effects at the expense of substance.

Hurtling frantically from one explosion to the next with very little narrative drive, it's too flashy, too slick and the intensity is lost within the chaotic action.

Farrell plays confused and vulnerable to aplomb but his skills are vastly underutilized amongst crazed chasing and his lines are reduced to mere clichés.

Kate Beckinsale is a phenomenal force of hell and vitriol showing up fellow beauty Jessica Biel at every turn while Bryan Cranston's Cohaagen holds as much menacing presence as an angry kitten.

It is far more Hal than Walter White.

Total Recall may be visually good looking, grand in production design and the chase scenes well executed but no matter what reality you choose, it would not be enhanced by having this film exist.


Total Recall

  • Stars: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy, Bryan Cranston
  • Director: Len Wisemen
  • Rated: M
  • Verdict: Two out of three stars

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