Um, Forgettable

Total Recall only gets partial credit

If you’ve ever seen an online profile picture, chances are you’re familiar with the pursed-lips, craned-neck, supposedly slimming contortion known affectionally as “the duckface.” Total Recall is the sci-fi tale of a quasi-postapocalyptic duckface war between Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, with Colin Ferrell as the judge. At least, that’s what this remake of an adaptation of a short story, written by a gob-stopping five separate writers, seems to be about. Any larger theme is missed among the cacophony of dub-step and techno sounds, Farrell’s unrepentant shirtlessness and Biel and Beckinsale’s leather pants.

Some folks out there are under the delusion that 1990’s Arnold Schwarzenegger-led Total Recall is an untouchable sci-fi masterpiece. Well, if that’s the sliding scale for masterpieces, the Louvre should be full of remedial children’s scribbles. There was no inherent harm in director Len Wiseman resurrecting this property for another go-round. Then again, there was no real incentive to do so either.

Ferrell is Douglas Quaid or a secret agent named Hauser, depending on how you see things. He is perhaps the most bland, nondescript hero to ever possess two identities. In the near future, “chemical war” has rendered only Europe and Australia habitable, presumably because weather patterns in sci-fi movies allow gas to observe political borders. Quaid and his wife, Lori (Beckinsale) live in “The Colony,” which is Australian for ghetto. Each day, he has to board an elevator that takes him through the center of the earth to England, where he makes robots. Presumably, Stephen Hawking’s next book will be “How to Build an Elevator Through the Center of the Earth for Dummies.”

Dennis hates his life, despite being married to Kate Beckinsale. So he checks out “Rekall,” which is run by a badly hair-dyed John Cho. Rekall gives you fake memories so you can falsely remember a time when you didn’t hate your life. Dennis asks to be a spy because he’s had dreams about a sexy female agent (Biel), but right when he’s about to go under, it’s revealed he already is a spy. Or is he?

Much like the 1990s incarnation, the “mystery” is whether or not Douglas is actually a spy fighting against the evil Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) or if he’s basically just dreaming. In addition to the beloved tummy mutant, Kuato, the most memorable part of the original was Mars, which is gone. That said, the single best element of this otherwise unremarkable outing is the set design. The overpopulated world has sloppy buildings that, while Blade Runner inspired, are not derivative. Oh, and some of the fighting is okay. Beyond that, there’s only the intrigue of Cranston’s hairpiece and Biel’s flexibility that remain compelling.

There’s nothing wrong with the lifeless, charisma-free Total Recall. It is a blockbuster yeoman, if that does anything for you. To put it another way: Before the movie started, an audience member talking far too loudly confused Colin Farrell with Colin Powell and inaccurately described the plot of SWAT using Powell’s name. Now that idea is something that stays with you.

Grade = C

posted at 11:54 pm
on Friday, August 03rd, 2012

COMMENTS

(We're testing Disqus commenting (finally!); please let us know if you have trouble.)

comments powered by Disqus

 

« Previous Page


Just Watch Once

Don’t Think Twice isn’t quite a misfire, but it’s still a bit disappointing after such a promising start. The first half hour or so felt as if it was setting up the best, most original comedy of...

more »


Hard Not to Laika

“Show your work.”

That statement is both an admonition given by rigid mathematics instructors and part of the reason why stop-motion animation continues to captivate. The meticulous, painstaking...

more »


Funny Noir Die

Sporting dialogue hotter than a recently spent shell casing and comedy slightly less dark than a necrophiliac stand-up comedian’s set, The Nice Guys targets a niche audience. Luckily, I am pretty...

more »


You Keep Using That Word…

The word “indignation” is used to describe anger provoked by what is perceived to be unfair treatment…so why is the new film by James Schmaus called Indignation? I know it’s the title of the original...

more »


Kim Jong-Uh Oh

Have you ever asked a friend to take a picture of you, and they forced you to pose for far too long before revealing that they were actually recording video the entire time? It’s a practical joke...

more »







Advanced Search