Total Recall (2012)

Total Recall
Director: Len Wiseman
Release Date: 29th August 2012
Rating: 12
Original Film, Columbia Pictures 

Rekall is a machine which creates fake memories and allows you to enjoy your time in the mind living out your wildest dreams. You could be saving the world or sneaking around as a spy. If I was hooked up to a Rekall machine I’d go on a grand adventure to find the legendary film reel which has the power to make remakes better than their originals. But it would forever remain an illusion. 

Total Recall is a modern retelling of the 1990 Arnie fuelled classic, and this time they’ve decided to pull the sci-fi tale about reality and the mind into a more serious direction. This direction involves less one liners and more robot fighting in a futuristic London with Colin Farrell taking on the role of Douglas. The story remains largely the same as Douglas approaches Rekall to have some exciting times away from his morbidly routine life of robot assembling and ends up causing everyone a lot of bother due to his spy role he’s forgotten all about. Confused by everyone’s reaction and his new-found instinct to murder people, Douglas sets off to find the truth and swap his psycho government hired wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) for a new one from the Resistance he’s apparently part of (Jessica Biel). You would too if you suddenly came home to find your wife wanting to murder you.

The story doesn’t change too much from the original then, though this time Mars is absent, and it seems the new more mature angle is to throw in some political business. One scene brings up the whole ‘is this real or isn’t it’ concept, but it throws it away for non stop action which ultimately tires rather than excites. To push the reality premise to the forefront would have been the more interesting approach to take the film, but it seems that would have required too much effort for the scriptwriters and target audience. Instead we’re left with a film which stays too close to the original but without the fun Arnie brought along. When I was quoting lines from the original (Consider this a divorce!) in places they’d fit in this new version, it was clear there was a problem.

The action if delivers isn’t even that good. Most scenes blur into one another and the crazy wife chasing our heroes down is relentless but never threatening. I think Douglas and Melina have more trouble with their environment while they run away than Lori and her synthetic army. She’s certainly no Terminator on the danger scale. There are a couple of interesting set pieces involving lifts and gravity, but ultimately the corridor shooting and roof top running smothers the audience. The majority is set in and around  incredibly dreary clean white buildings too, with the infinitely more interesting Blade Runner styled Colony city largely abandoned after the decent first act. An act which focusses more on an interesting reality/routine premise that is swiftly thrown out for explosions and bullets.

As a remake Total Recall is inoffensive but forgettable. I’ll need to use one of the Rekall machines just to remember what happened. It just makes me want to watch the original again. And In Bruges.

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