Saturday, 1 September 2012

'Total Recall' Film Review


Set in the future where two colonies remain: The 'United Federation of Britain' and Australia based 'The Colony', a power struggle between the rich and poor. All other nations have become a nuclear wasteland. Connected by a central transportation shaft called 'The Fall', workers from The Colony commute to UFB on a daily basis.

Factory Worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) suffers from bad dreams of entrapment, only to be soothed by his beautiful wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) when he awakes. Bad Life? Not really.


When he questions his mundane existence and yearns to have meaning in life, Quaid heads to Rekall, a service which implants memories into the brain, allowing the masses to remember living the life they've always wanted: a millionaire? a spy? a world class athlete?

As the machine begins to whir and the technicians plug him in, a background neural scan takes place to ensure the implant does not conflict with past memories... and here, he is accused of being a spy and an army of UFB agents come crashing in to arrest him.

In a blink of an eye, Quaid takes them all out and flees back home where his wife comforts him and tells him it's OK. Until she tries to kill him. Unmasked as a secret intel agent, Lori chases him as he tries to make sense of his life and identity.


Quaid meets Melina (Jessica Biel) who helps him discover that he is in fact named Hauser and is a Resistance leader and the two of them must evade capture in order to stop UFB leader Cohaagen's imminent invasion of The Colony.


I have no idea why they chose Britain and Australia as opposing sides of the world (and the plot holes in the mechanics and science of 'The Fall' are mild annoyances if you care about factuality) but the landscape and architecture in this dystopian future was breathtaking and though not wholly original, aided in creating a dynamic backdrop to the story.


The setup to the plot was speedy and intense; once the action has begun, it doesn't stop until the end. The action includes a high octane husband wife shoot-out chase within The Colony Architecture; a flat and slightly robotic futuristic but nonetheless present car chase and the adrenaline fueled lift hunt/fight, which was probably my favourite fight scene as the comedic destruction of the UFB robots (crushed by the lift/amputated) sparked humour within this otherwise dark thriller.


My favourite scene, however, must be when Quaid's friend tries to convince him that this 'new life' he's living is just Rekall and that he needs to return to reality. What is real? What is rekall? This scene was what I felt this movie should have focused more on. Which woman should he trust? Is he being used? Is it all a dream? However, the action dominated, leaving these intriguing and mind-bending ideas on the backseat and only injected every now and again with subtlety.

And as the film reached its climax, it almost seemed fitting to return to this idea of it all being just Rekall, that it was all just a memory implanted into Quaid's brain, but despite it heading towards a more typical route, the  catharsis was infused with one last action twist which I loved and kept me at the edge of my seat.

Now to tackle the issue of this being a remake. Yes I know it is a remake. No I have not seen the original. Whilst some reviews I read criticized the movie for a lack of originality and compared the films in every single way to conclude that this version sucked, I found it refreshing, and perhaps without the bias of having seen the original, it was hugely enjoyable and thrilling.

One gripe is the three-breasted lady. Carried over from the original to perhaps make fans of the first feel more at home (or attract 40+ year old men to the cinema), it didn't fit into the plot in any way and seemed a bit desperate and messy. There are all these other things I can moan about such as the London Underground stickers on a NY subway train but they didn't affect the film cinematically.

~~~CAST~~~
Colin Farrell- Douglas Quaid/ Hauser
Kate Beckinsale- Lori
Jessica Biel- Melina

Also stars Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy and John Cho.

Colin Farrell has the looks and physique to play the hero but there lacked an emotional connection, which can be said for the whole cast. Whilst we root for the lead couple, by the end we really didn't care who won, so long as the action remained top notch.

Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel look really similar which may be confusing to some of the audience if they couldn't tell them apart. It may or may not have been done intentionally but I feel like it works, to add to the deception.

~~~VERDICT~~~
Remake or not, 'Total Recall' is an edge of the seat thriller that keeps you pumped from the beginning in a beautiful dystopian world, full of action and a hint of mindbending themes on reality and identity. Though not wholly original and travelled down a typical formulaic route to reach it's intense climax, this is the perfect popcorn movie to end the Summer with.

Check out the trailer HERE.

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