Monday, August 6, 2012

Review of Total Recall

In the far future, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) chafes against his dull factory job and has repetitive dreams of how he lived a more meaningful life—fighting for a cause alongside a courageous woman.  Although his gorgeous wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) loves him, he can’t shake the idea he’s meant for something important. 

On a dreary evening, Quaid on impulse visits Rekall, a company that will implant memories in his brain of his fantasy vacation.  Does he want to be a hero?  A warrior?  Quaid chooses to be a secret agent.  And that’s when everything goes crazy. 

The Rekall people panic, saying his memories indicate he really is a secret agent.  Next thing he knows, government agents are after him, including his wife!  Instead of being married for years, THOSE were the implanted memories, and Lori has simply been pretending to be his wife for a few months. 

photo by Tony Shek
Kate Beckinsale

Fleeing, Quaid exhibits survival skills he didn’t know he had, while his fake wife uses enough bullets to supply a small army to take him down.  Then a car pulls up and the door opens.  It’s Melina (Jessica Biel), the girl of his dreams.  She’s real, and the cause they fought for will determine the fate of millions. 

photo by Maggie Jumps
Jessica Biel

I strongly recommend Total Recall.  The casual use of information technology is enough to ground us in this well-imagined future.  I’ll just say you think your mobile phone/projector is convenient?  Wait’ll you see what they have.  And the chase scenes are riveting.  At first it seems they’ve outdone themselves by racing on freeways that use both the top and bottom of the concrete, but then they go beyond that by showing what it’s like to struggle on elevator cars that travel both vertically and horizontally.  This makes Bruce Willis elevator scenes look like a snap. 

Kate Beckinsale gives the most riveting performance as the fake wife/government agent.  She’s relentless, obviously enjoys her job, and any collateral damage along the way does not even merit a shrug from her.  Jessica Biel provides the heart of the movie, as the rebel fighter who never gives up, no matter how hopeless the situation.  At first, Colin Farrell gives an uninvolved performance, which is either meant to show how boring his character found his life, or is evidence he was just phoning his lines in.  But once the action starts, he certainly delivers. 

Don't miss the girl fight

Most of the negative reviews of the updated Total Recall are by fans of the original, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and they laud the original as a work of art.  For the life of me, I cannot see why they prefer the original.  It’s like preferring the original Battlestar Galactica to the reimagined version. 

Both movies were highly developed versions of the short story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale, by Philip K. Dick.  See the entire text here

As a coincidence(?), Arnold just announced he is founding a think tank, to be named after him.  I cannot make this stuff up.  Here’s my proposed name for it: 

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Institute
for people who can’t think good 


Anonymous said...

Great, upbeat, and compelling review, Mark. I was going to pass this one by but am now eager to go! Sara

M Pax said...

Well, this makes it sound more interesting. I was disappointed to hear they took Mars out.

MrMark said...

The common wisdom is movies nowadays do not get set on Mars, because that sounds dorky. This is leftover from some schlock science fiction movies decades ago, set on Mars, that looked ... dorky.

Since I'm doing a mashup of the War of the Worlds, I have to hope readers will see past that.

Ink in the Book said...

I liked the movie. I say *liked* because the nonstop action was, well, nonstop. I would have loved a reprieve from from the continuous action, but I also enjoyed it it more because it's the first movie I got to see without my kiddos needing a bathroom break or more popcorn. Maybe that's why it all seemed nonstop? No interruptions!!

Dan O. said...

It’s not the most inventive remake out there, but it’s still a fun one that has you suspend your belief and turn off your brain for about 2 hours, and just enjoy what’s on display. Can’t see too much wrong with that, can you? Good review Mark.


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