Total Recall (2012)

This is the last film I’ll be seeing with my (now expired) Cineworld card. I picked up the preview ticket before my card ran out earlier this month but I was honest and did tell them it wouldn’t be valid by the time of the preview! Expect film reviews on the blog to be a little less frequent until Niamh is a little older and we can get out more. Or we cut down on gigs… It’s a shame as there are some great looking films coming out soon. The trailers before this showcased some stuff I’d really like to see. Ah well.

Total Recall (2012)

“If I’m not me, then who the hell am I?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Man wants to get memories implanted to cover up his drudgy life, but finds there are already a bunch in there.

See it if you like: big, effects-heavy sci-fi action films which attempt to have a plot

There are two ways to look at this film – something new, or a rehash of the 1990 original. Having seen the Arnie vehicle from back in the day (several times), it’s hard not to compare the two which is a little unfair as they’re different enough that they’re not overly comparable.

The basic plot (lifted from Philip K. Dick‘s “We Can Remember It From You Wholesale”) is the same. Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), labourer and husband of very fit wife (Kate Beckinsale), is bored with his humdrum existence and decides to spice it up with a trip to Rekall. There, they’ll implant some sexy memories that he can pretend are his own. Something thrilling like… ooh, being a secret agent. Only, for some reason, these memories clash with ones that are already in there…

Cue pandemonium, chases, explosions, another fit woman and a plot involving a rich politician trying to get richer at the expense of an innocent populace while being hounded by a resistance movement. The single largest different between this version and the original is the setting – it’s all on Earth. Mars doesn’t get a look-in.

Instead, the world is divided in two: the rich United Federation of Britain and the poor Colony (Australia), a melting-pot of cultures aptly illustrated by the use of Chinese, Korean and English signs all over the grubby place. The Colony is wonderfully imagined, looking very Blade Runner-esque whereas the UFB has a similar technological look while being that bit cleaner and sleaker.

The two are joined by a huge “train” called The Fall that passes through the earth. Workers travel from Colony to UFB each day and back again.

The biggest star of the film is the setting and the effects associated with it. It’s a beautiful looking film and all credit should be given to the CGI masters who’ve brought it to life. Add in a good dollop of imagination as they’ve obviously strived not to remake the original and credit where it is due. Certainly the cast put in passable performances, but nothing outstanding. Farrell, for instance, was far better in Phone Booth which actually required a modicum of acting talent.

For an action romp, it’s very watchable though the plot does slow things down from time to time. As a thriller, there’s not enough story. The balance could be a little better. Having said that, I did like it. The action sequences are very well put together and, if you haven’t seen the original, the plot’s not bad either. There are plenty of references to the 1990 film, sometimes in passing, sometimes simply in the way that something happens which has the same outcome but is done differently than it was 22 years ago. I don’t want to list examples as that would be spoiler-icious!

On the whole, it’s worth seeing. The original was a classic, but it was also released in a very different era where a film like that came out once a year or so. Nowadays, big films with this level of effects technology pop out at the rate of a handful a month. The fact that the visuals and the overall scale of the scenery impressed so much is down to a huge team who’ve put in some excellent work and that, for me, was worth seeing the film for.

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