- Director:Len Wiseman
- Cast:Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Colin Farrell, Ethan Hawke, Bill Nighy
- Release Date:August 23, 2012
- Running time:118 minutes
- Film Worth:$10.00
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Len Wiseman’s remake of Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi cult classic is dull, repetitive and uninspired, despite a big budget and an attractive cast.
In 1990, Dutch director, Paul Verhoeven, took renowned sci-fi author, Philip K. Dick’s short story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”, and turned it into Total Recall, a big, heaving slab of daring, head-spinning brilliance. 22 years later, a far less inspired and innovative filmmaker – Len Wiseman, the man behind the Underworld series, and Die Hard 4.0 – has taken the same source material, and turned it into one of the most resolutely dull and utterly mediocre big budget flicks to come around the pike for ages. Total Recall is not actually bad, and even that is part of the problem – it steers so firmly in the middle of the road that it never really gets anywhere.
In a typically dystopian future cribbed from Blade Runner (another Dick Adaptation) and The Matrix, the world is divided into two very uneven halves: the oppressed, impoverished Colony (which is, ahem, Australia!) and the wealthy United Federation Of Britain (effectively everything else in the world). In the middle of this instantly absurd planetary set-up is factory worker, Dough Quaid (Colin Farrell works hard with limited material here), who tries to spice up his rudimentary existence with a visit to Rekall, a hi-tech company which implants exciting new memories into its clients. But when he opts for the remembrances of a spy, Doug discovers that he is actually a spy in real life, working for The Colony’s resistance army against United Federation Of Britain despot, Cohaagen (the grossly overworked Bryan Cranston, who is profoundly, horribly awful in bad guy mode here). Soon, Doug realises that his wife is actually a hardboiled government agent (in a woefully misjudged performance, Kate Beckinsale pouts and trounces more like a fashion model in a bad mood than a ruthless military operative) intent on killing him, and that his heart really belongs to a beautiful resistance fighter (the lost-at-sea Jessica Biel largely looks confused and overly concerned).
Basically a series of repetitive chase and action sequences akin to a video game that look like they were filmed in an abandoned factory, Total Recall is rock-solid proof that some films really don’t need to be remade. To take something so interesting and subversive and then turn it into something so lifeless and moribund is almost tantamount to a crime, and Len Wiseman should be shown to the dock immediately. Devoid of the politics, humour, and richly imaginative visuals of Verhoeven’s cult classic, this new take on that eye-popping original is a truly flat sci-fi experience. Ironically, for a film all about the deception of memory, Total Recall is totally forgettable.