The summer silly season draws to an close with a re-imaging (roll eyes or insert air quotes) of the 90s Verhoeven cult classic Total Recall. At the helm this time is Die Hard 4.0 director Len Wiseman who delivers a good-looking, if ultimately unnecessary, film.
Colin Farrell steps into Arnie’s muscle suit for the role of Hauser with Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel talking over from Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin. Through his exhaustive press junkets Farell has said that he initially didn’t want to do the film and only agreed after seeing the script and believing they could deliver something different, with more heart and soul as opposed to Verhoeven’s blood, bombs and boobs style. What they’ve managed to do is give us a shiny new world with better special effects, newer gadgets and an altered story. It has all the failings of the first one though, which seem bigger here as you feel with the original, Verhoeven knew exactly what he was doing and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought.
Hauser keeps having a recurring dream where he appears to be on the run from the robotic fuzz and in cahoots with a women he doesn’t know (Jessica Biel). Unsure what the dream means he heads off to “Rekall”, a place where all your dreams can come true. It doesn’t go to plan and Hauser uncovers that he’s a secret agent whose memory was wiped. The film then becomes a race to try and uncover the truth before he’s captured again and loses his true identity forever. Oh yeah and most of Earth has been destroyed with England and Australia (boo) being the only two places left to go (I think I’d take my chances in the nuclear wasteland), which they travel between by going through the earth’s core in a spaceship type thingy. Cool right? Eh not so much.
It looks great, no expense was spared on the special effects and there are some nifty enough new gadgets but that’s about it. The acting is pretty horrendous from Biel who plays Farrell’s love interest and Beckinsale who plays his fake wife. It’s impossible to believe that Farrell and Biel are soulmates as you aren’t given any time to see their relationship develop which is impressive as the film is nearly two hours long. This is the nature of the film though; new scenarios are continuously thrown up which you have to take on board, resulting in the fact that you don’t really care what’s going on as you haven’t invested emotionally in any of the characters. The kiss between Farrell and Biel is about as romantic a a pat-down from an overweight airport security guard.
Man of the moment Bryan Cranston is good as the evil Cohaagen, but even he can’t help but look ridiculous in a rain soaked brawl. A welcome cameo from Bill Nighy gives a glimmer of some hope for the film but sadly it isn’t to be. It suffers from transformer-style action at times where I couldn’t have cared less what was going on and felt pretty bored.
This re-booted recall is looks over brains, there is no extra heart or emotion as everything is too rushed to carry any weight. I’m not a massive die-hard fan of the first one, but its heart was in the right place and it was impressive for it’s time with Arnie on cheese overdrive. Granted it may look dated by today’s standards, but I’ll take the original with its flaws over a shiny plastic re-make that deep down we know was only conceived for the money.
Like a three boobed women the film will arouse your curiosity but leave you with more questions, making you return to what you know best.
USA, Canada / Directed By: Len Wiseman / Written By: Kurt Wimmer, Mark Bomback / Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy / 118min / Action, Sci-Fi / Release: 3 August 2012 (US/Canada), 31 August 2012 (UK/Ireland)