Total Recall (2012)
“Casting and visuals are an upgrade, but we get far too many action sequences and not enough of the mind games.”
-Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com
“The movie is relentless in its narrative monotony. It especially devotes an ungodly amount of screen time to a series of endless chases — so many, in fact, that I had to wonder if the performers were being paid by the mile.”
-Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing
“Colin Farrell is the blandest of leading men; a credible actor, but charisma-deficient – no matter how many times the studios tell us he’s a star.”
-Corey Hall, Metro Times
The above quotes sum up my opinion of this film pretty well. First, I’ve never really understood why Colin Farrell is consistently cast as the leading man, he just doesn’t have the screen presence to command these types of roles. Despite the miscasting, the film actually starts off pretty well. I was on board for at least the first half hour and really enjoyed the initial setup of the “Federation of Britain”, the Colony and the elevator shaft through the Earth’s core. Eventually, though, everything gets muddied up into one too many set pieces and scenes of people chasing or fighting each other through various locations, including: floating cubes, elevator shafts, hovering cities and helicopters. Pretty exhausting.
It’s confounding why director Len Wiseman chose to replace all the fun sci-fi elements of the original with scene after scene of chases and semi-incoherent action. All of the charm of the original is lost in translation as the script tries to shoehorn in most of the iconic moments and classic characters from Paul Verhoeven’s film, coming across as complete fan-service. To top it off, Bryan Cranston (Cohaagen) and Bill Nighy (Matthias) are completely wasted here, neither doing much of anything until the second half of the film. Richter and George/Kuato (the best characters in the original) are nowhere to be found.
The action stinks and the plot is non-existent, but at least the visual effects are pretty great. The dystopian version of Earth we see here is rich with the hustle-bustle of citizens, machines and the robot police force going about their lives, commuting to and from the colony for work. Speaking of commuting, “The Fall” is the most interesting element of the film. With the majority of the planet uninhabitable, citizens travel between “The Federation” and the Colony by way of an enormous elevator through the Earth’s core. The clever way the elevator rotates to account for gravity is a nice touch.
Other than some slick visuals and a cool setpiece or two, this is a mostly unecessary remake of the Paul Verhoeven classic. If you absolutely have to get your Total Recall fix, skip this and rewatch the original.
“No Arnold, no personality.”
-Christian Toto, Big Hollywood