Total Recall: A Movie to Remember to Forget At The Box Office?

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 118 mins
Common Sense Rating: 14+

“You don’t have the most reliable of memories; do you?”
(Bryan Cranston)

Arnold Schwartzenegger, actor famous for his role as The Terminator, starred in an action movie called Total Recall in 1990. After two decades, the powers that be decided that the movie “will be back” with an updated twist. Columbia Pictures, the big studio distributor for the film, has already released entertaining films in Men in Black 3 (see my review, Third Time the Charm for MiB3: A Men in Black 3 Review, here) as well as the rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man (see my review, ‘Amazing’ or ‘Itsy-Bitsy’: An Honest Review of The Amazing Spider-Man, here). Could the remake of Total Recall continue the trend of well made entertaining movies despite the argument “it should not have been”?

In a world when the effects of World War III  has left the world uninhabitable except Britain (now known as the UFB [United Federation of Britain]) & Australia (now known as The Colony), factory worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is having recurring nightmares that are troubling him. When these dreams are coupled with his dissatisfaction with the direction his life is going, he decides to go to REKALL, an experience that allows the opportunity to live the life the person desires to live. However, once a SWAT team breaks up the proceedings & Quaid singlehandedly subdues the team, life turns upside down for Quaid. His wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) turns out to be an agent assigned to kill him, the SWAT team are after him all the while slowly rediscovering that he is a secret agent with the key to saving what’s left of the world.

The collective cast, as a whole, was adequate in this movie. Kate Beckinsale was the strongest consistent performer in the cast. She played up the vindictiveness very well in addition to performing with two separate accents. Bryan Cranston was another strong performer as he plays Cohaagen. Watching him act is very entertaining. It’s a shame that he has the amount of screen time then he has. As much as he tries, Colin Farrell does a passable job of playing Douglas Quaid. He had a couple of strong moments but ultimately doesn’t quite maintain that chemistry throughout the entire film, and the same could be said for Jessica Biel as she plays fellow agent Melina. There were some interesting set designs in Total Recall that caught my eye, although it seemed derivative. It seemed very much like a futuristic Blade Runner inhabited by the mutant robot love children of Battlestar Galactica’s Cylon Centurions & the Storm Troopers from Star Wars.

After watching the Total Recall remake, not sure if this picture is from a battle or a wedding…
Image Credit:

Total Recall’s best efforts are overshadowed by boggling story arc. As I offer my opinions on movies, I’m not in the business of revealing plot points, so I’ll keep it as vague as possible. [Those who’ve seen the movie may know what I’m talking about.] As it tries way too hard in attempting to surpass the original Total Recall, the plot gets lost by overcomplicating the main details regarding the reveal. There were a couple of huge logical errors or plot ‘holes’ that are so erroneous & simple that a high school student [or even an observant junior high school science student] would pick it up. It’s not complicated nuclear or rocket science; but simple common sense. Although I enjoyed a couple of ‘key’ parts of the story, I felt that most scenes were overdone, underdone, or poorly done. Furthermore, there were way too many shots that feature the light hitting the camera. It wasn’t cool in Star Trek, it wasn’t cool in the Transformers movie franchise, and it certainly wasn’t cool here. As far as content, this movie is loaded with profanity, an alien flashing that is as weird as it is gratuitous [as those familiar with the original well know], and many failed puns right after a major event. Actually, the funniest part of the entire movie came when the very first opening credit appeared. It was ‘ORIGINAL FILM’, the name of one of the production companies that was involved with producing the movie. [Think about that; A REMAKE produced by ORIGINAL FILM.]

Just as Doug Quaid forgets who he is, Total Recall forgets and loses sight of what made this movie appealing. This movie is among the poster films in the ranks of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When all the explosions are done & the dust has settled, Total Recall is just not a good action/sci-fi movie. Considering that the coming attractions delivered more thrills than the actual movie {which will be seen in an upcoming Soon on the Silver Screen post}, Columbia Pictures should have [or should] recall Total Recall. In a summer where Men in Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man brought positive light to their respective movie franchises, Total Recall is easily the worst of the remade/rebooted movies Columbia put out. Do yourself a favor and stick with the original and save your money. D+

[P.S.: If you want to see a great movie where the memory loss film, find Memento; a film starring Guy Ritchie under the direction of Christopher Nolan.]

Fade to black…


5 responses to “Total Recall: A Movie to Remember to Forget At The Box Office?

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