Review: Total Recall / Cert: 12 / Director: Len Wiseman / Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer, Mark Bomback / Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston / Release Date: December 26th
For the second big screen adaption of Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, director Wiseman (Underworld) has decided to follow the events in the short story a bit closer than Paul Verhoeven did.
After a chemical war makes much of Earth uninhabitable, there are two distinct populations on the planet: the United Federation of Britain, which is basically Europe; and the Colony, which is pretty much Australasia. Workers from the Colony commute to the UFB via a direct route through the centre of the Earth called The Fall, that takes 17 minutes. Bored of his life, Douglas Quaid (Farrell) decides to pay a visit to Rekall and have a fake spy memory implanted, but it appears that he may already be one. A brief massacre of a small police force later, Doug is forced to run. Seeking solace with his wife, Lori (Beckinsale), he learns that his life is a lie and he has to escape the murderous clutches of his spouse before trying to work out what to do next.
The resistance, led by Matthias (Bill Nighy) and Chancellor Cohaagen (Cranston) are both after Quaid for what may be locked in his mind. Throwing in Melina (Biel) to assist Doug, what we have here is an extremely stylised chase movie that rockets from one grandiose set piece to another. Don’t try and compare it to the Schwarzenegger version of 1990 as it’s a completely different beast.
There is no Mars trip involved, Lori now has a much bigger role as the tracker of Doug, and his ability to fall back on any help is greatly diminished. As a sci-fi film, it is well polished and pure candy for the eyes, taking obvious inspiration from everything from Blade Runner and I, Robot to The Fifth Element.
There are enough moments to keep you watching, including a hover car chase and a zero-gravity shoot-out, but because Wiseman has chosen to take this project seriously, it all comes across as a little too clean – to the point of almost being sterile. Stripped of any humour, it appears to have no real heart although it now does marry better with its literary sequel Minority Report (which also starred Farrell).
One last comment for Wiseman – turn the dial back on the lens flare, you’re not J.J. Abrams!
Extras: Extended Director’s Cut / Commentary on Extended Director’s Cut / Theatrical Cut /Total Recall Insight Mode / Gag Reel / Science Fiction vs. Science Fact Featurette / Designing the Fall featurette / Blu-ray Exclusives: 7 Total Action featurettes / Stepping into Recall Pre-visualization sequences / God of War: Ascension” PlayStation 3 Playable Game Demo