‘Total Recall’ Remake Should Be Wiped From Your Memory

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Paul Verhoeven’s “Total Recall” has been run through a machine and turned into a personality-less, numbing exercise in CGI action with a complete lack of any characters worth giving a damn about and a totally wasted opportunity at social commentary. Sure, seeing Jessica Biel fight Kate Beckinsale while Colin Farrell punches a robot in a speeding space elevator has something inherent that appeals to the 12-year-old boy in me but that doesn’t make it filmmaking. No, filmmaking and Len Wiseman are two things that don’t really go together.

The ‘auteur’ behind the “Underworld” movies has given a similar sheen to his completely unnecessary “Total Recall,” a sci-fi adventure that first seems rather harmless and mediocre until one realizes that it completely fails one of the most important tests of a remake – it never justifies its existence. There’s no reason for 2012’s “Total Recall” to exist. And so there’s no reason to pay for it. Wiseman and the producers behind “Total Recall” would argue that the 2012 special effects and the fact that the original is now over two decades old are justification enough. They would be wrong.

Total Recall
Total Recall
Photo credit: Sony Pictures

The core of the film based on Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” is actually closer to its source material than Verhoeven’s film and makes a half-hearted attempt at social commentary in the process but does so with nary a sign of wit or character even with so many real-world elements on which to comment (the political battle between the haves and the have-nots in the headlines today along with the Occupy Movement could have really strengthened the foundation of “Total Recall” but those opportunities are wasted). It is 2084. The world has been destroyed to the point that all survivors live in two places, The Colony and the UFB. Workers live in the crowded, blue-collar Colony and travel through the core of the Earth to the UFB. They are essentially slaves. And they are uprising.

Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is one of those workers, living as ordinary a life as someone married to Kate Beckinsale can live while also having dreams of being a sci-fi super-spy. In his dreams, he’s running from robot assassins with the assistance of a beautiful fellow spy (Jessica Biel). Quaid finds himself drawn to the business of Rekall, a company that promises more exciting memories than what you already have. Just as he’s about to have a more exciting life downloaded, alarms go off and armed soldiers storm Rekall. It turns out that Quaid already is a spy (or is he?) and will play a major role in the battle between the nefarious Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) and rebellious Matthias (Bill Nighy).

Total Recall
Total Recall
Photo credit: Sony Pictures

Sound like fun? It’s not. Every time that “Total Recall” threatens to get interesting it turns into another repetitive chase sequence. To be fair, there are a couple of engaging action set pieces including a freeway chase and the aforementioned Biel vs. Beckinsale vs. Farrell vs. Robot scene, but the connective tissue is just a snooze. The foundation of “Total Recall” has the potential for not just social commentary but Hitchockian everyman fantasy. What if YOU were the key to leading the have-nots against the evil powers that be? And your wife was the assassin standing in your way? There’s so much potential in that concept that it’s almost startling to see how little Len Wiseman gets out of it.

The word that keeps coming to mind when I think of “Total Recall” is numbing. As action scene after action scene went along and Farrell’s minorly engaging performance dissipates in a cacophony of CGI, I just realized that I didn’t care. Some movies are so un-engaging that they make you think of the errands you need to run or other work you need to do. “Total Recall” seems designed to make you think of nothing. Sit there, zone out, eat your popcorn, turn your brain off, and forget it ever happened. Why waste your time on something so forgettable?

“Total Recall” stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, and Bill Nighy. It was directed by Len Wiseman. It will be released on August 3, 2012 and is rated PG-13.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Manny be down's picture

"Total Recall"

This was bad its’ not total remake at all

ziggy one of the best's picture

Total Recall

now is the time when we miss Arnold its’ had nice high energy sci-fi but we miss Schwarzenegger presence

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