For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man as he finds himself on the run from the police.
Review By Elaine Ewe
Recall this line from Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man", "With great power comes great responsibility". It is a timeless principle worth practicing by anyone, anywhere, except that in the case of remakes, it should be modified to "With great predecessors comes great responsibility". While it does not bear the same vocal impact as the former, the latter does hold as much truth. When we take this into consideration, we can hardly fault Len Wiseman's "Total Recall" remake, because really, there is no explanation for what went so horribly wrong.
Perhaps it is due to Colin Farrell. Sure, the 1990 "Total Recall" starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is hardly a world class actor by standards, but there is just something off about Farrell by a mile. He plays a factory worker living in The Colony named Douglas Quaid, who is having recurring nightmares of being attacked and a mysterious woman. This prompts him to visit Rekall, a company that implants artificial memories, which he asks to be implanted with memories of a secret agent. Before they could do so, the Rekall employee accuses him of being a real spy and after a gunfight with a SWAT team, in which Quaid kills everyone, and thus forced to go on the lam. As it turns out, his own wife (Kate Beckinsale) is an undercover agent working for the United Federation of Britain who is tasked with monitoring him and is now obsessed with hunting him down. However, in spite of Farrell's best efforts, his Quaid is difficult to sympathise with, almost, for we are busy concentrating on not dozing off, but with Beckinsale's Lori relentlessly and mindlessly hunting him down, you cannot help but pity him. Otherwise, Farrell would do well to stay away from playing the lead in films in the future because of his painful lack of screen presence, made even more obvious when Bill Nighy steps into the picture.
This is an example of the inconsistencies in the movie's tone. It is unfathomable why Beckinsale's character is pursuing Farrell's character so relentlessly, even when she is berated for doing so. The movie tries to paint Lori as a woman who resented being in a fake marriage with Quaid, as Quaid is a highly dangerous individual, but nonetheless, the poor guy has done nothing to incur her wrath personally so watching her pursue him like the Terminator is cringeworthy to say the least. Meanwhile, Biel's Melina is next to useless in the film, seeing that Farrell is more than capable of saving himself. More unforgivably, the film fails to mint Bryan Cranston's skills for its own. Considering the actor's talent as evidenced in AMC's television drama "Breaking Bad", there is said to be said for the movie when seeing Cranston's Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen go hand-to-hand against Quaid makes you feel embarrassed, like watching a guy beating up his dad.
Unlike the 1990 "Total Recall", Wiseman cuts out all connections with Mars, choosing instead to concentrate on more shameless political overtones, centralised here as a feud between the United Federation of Britain and The Colony for habitable space, the latter being mostly Americans, of course, with some Asians thrown in because they help paint them in a more sympathetic light. To make things worse, what you see is what you get, for Wiseman's futuristic world is apparently hampered by the lack of budget for the story and screenplay writers, having blown almost all his budget on the impressive action sequences, so we are left with a cheap "Blade Runner" imitation.
With an all-star cast line-up and based on praiseworthy material, "Total Recall" should have made Paul Verhoeven's 1990 version pale in comparison. Starring Golden Globe Awards' Best Actor Colin Farrell, Wiseman's kickass spouse Kate Beckinsale, Esquire's 2005 "Sexiest Woman Alive" Jessica Biel, three-time Primetime Emmy Award winner Bryan Cranston and Golden Globe Awards' Best Performance winner Bill Nighy, a jacked-up budget that allows for more realistic CGI and fight scenes, "Total Recall" should have everything needed for a fist-pumping experience, except that it fails to make any use of what it was given, resulting in a huge disappointment. With great predecessors comes great responsibility indeed.
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