Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, John Cho
Running Time: 118 minutes (130 minutes extended cut)
Extras: Science Fiction V Science Fact, Gag Reel, Extended Cut, Designing The Fall, Total Action, Stepping Into Recall – Pre-Visualization Process
Remaking films as iconic as TOTAL RECALL (1990) is win-win; initially written off, intrigue takes hold, and suddenly the cinema is packed with cynical film goers paying £10 to be proved right, and, like any Len Wiseman movie, it lives up to those cynics expectations – or does it?
Doug Quaid’s (Farrell) life is plagued by boredom and near-death dreams. Wife Lori (Beckinsale) works for the United Federation of Britain – one of two habitable sections of earth along with The Colony – but has a secret. Looking for excitement Quaid visits Rekall, a memory implant program, where his life is turned upside down.
Fans of the first two UNDERWORLD films will be familiar with director Len Wiseman’s ‘style over substance’ issues, and TOTAL RECALL is, on the surface, no different. Present are multi-angle action scenes edited fast enough to induce nausea or, more worrying, an epileptic fit; swooping camera shots unconcerned with capturing the action, only ensuring the cast look beautiful, and scripting so convoluted it would make the Wachowski’s flinch – and they wrote MATRIX RELOADED.
So far, so Wiseman but there is more to TOTAL RECALL than meets the eye. Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent classic take on Philip K. Dick’s novel aspires to be political, but falls short due to the focus on witty one-liners and the violence, afore mentioned. Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback’s screenplay may miss the mark at times, but their re-imagining of WE CAN REMEMBER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE is unafraid to stare US politics in the eye – using protagonist and antagonist as metaphors for Barack Obama and George Bush, Jr. respectively. Whether the bureaucratic under current is enough to save the film is arguable; its faults are huge, none more so than Kate Beckinsale, but aesthetically there is enough to please.
TOTAL RECALL has the ability to make you think one minute, and reach for paracetamol the next. It deserves credit for being completely different to 1990s Schwarzenegger-starring take, but that is arguably its biggest fault; Arnie and Verhoeven knew the action spectacle they were crafting, 2012s TOTAL RECALL doesn’t seem to know what it is.
Extras: The two-disc Blu-ray holds a Gag Reel offering as many laughs per minute as a bout of herpes, and Science Fiction V Science Fact – a spurious look into the future, that is actually just hyping the movie. Designing The Fall is hideously dull with such little focus on the actual Fall it’s almost insulting. The other featurettes offer a good insight into the making of the movie, with all the main players present, saving an otherwise underwhelming package.