Total Recall

20 Jan

total recall

Director: Len Wiseman

Writers: Kurt Wimmer (screenplay), Mark Bomback (screenplay)

Stars: Colin Farrell, Bokeem Woodbine and Bryan Cranston

Motion Picture Rating: 12A

Runtime: 118 minutes


Len Wiseman has re-made and updated the fondly remembered 1990 Schwarzenegger film, but who asked him to do it? No doubt it is commercial pressure that is fuelling the trend to dig up, dust down and to re-do popular ‘80’s and ‘90’s movies, but some things are better left alone. In this one Colin Farrell takes big Arnie’s role having recently featured in the Fright Night re-make so this catastrophe marks him as a repeat offender.

This time around the Unified Federation of Britain is oddly in charge of an impoverished Earth, but the original plot, with Farrell recalling his previous life as an action hero, remains intact. His present life is a lie and friends, wife (Kate Beckinsale) and job are part of a wider conspiracy to keep Farrell’s renegade warrior in check. Once he starts to see through the façade it is action all the way. Unfortunately, the action is of the endless chase variety that delivers plenty of noise and stunts, but zero engagement.

So much of what Wiseman offers us in his Total Recall is so familiar and so uninteresting. The synthetic police force looks like i-Robot, the hover car chase comes from The Fifth Element and the rain-drenched city of the future lit up with neon once again plunders Blade Runner. There is also Demolition Man in here as well as Star Wars and Serenity. The film lacks any originality and, fatally, it has no charm at all. Farrell can’t bring anything fresh to it and whilst Beckinsale and Jessica Biel (as the ex-comrade and girlfriend) look great, their acting in this is woeful.

Arnie’s Total Recall had some humour and it had some charm. That film had some surprises, the odd delight and decent action. Twenty years on and the re-make is tortuous. The only way that I got through it was to watch Farrell’s stubble changing within scenes in unsurprisingly lax continuity work by the crew – maybe they were as bored as me?

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