Film: Total Recall Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston and Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy Director: Len Wiseman Plot Synopsis: A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall - a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led - goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.
Colin Farrell reprises the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid in the action-thriller. But is it a total recall of the 1990 hit, is it better or worse? Critics speak
Christy Lemire, Associated Press Rating: 2.5/4 Seriously, this movie has no sense of humor — there are maybe two jokes, both of which are callbacks to the first movie. Farrell doesn't get to utter any corny one-liners as he rips off a bad guy's arms. And maybe this is good, this attempt at reinvention. It certainly makes director Len Wiseman's film move more energetically and efficiently, at least until the repetitive and overlong ending: a barrage of anonymous automatic gunfire and heavy-duty explosions.
Both films are super violent — Paul Verhoeven's came with an R-rating more than two decades ago because, well, he's Paul Verhoeven — but less seems to be at stake in this latest version. Farrell is certainly a better actor than Schwarzenegger and he's capable of far more emotional complexity, but Schwarzenegger was better at conveying a sense of panic and fear, of discombobulation. You actually felt for him as he struggled to piece together his past and tried to determine whom he could trust. Farrell is confident and competent regardless of the situation; there never seems to be any real threat of him coming out alive.
The densely packed vertical urban sprawl of The Colony, a multicultural ghetto that's kinda Japanese and kinda Russian and constantly rainy, is the impressively detailed, vividly rendered work of production designer Patrick Tatopoulos. It has an imposing, dreary grandeur reminiscent of "Blade Runner," also based on Dick's writing.One vast improvement here is that the women are stronger and fiercer than they were in the original; Rachel Ticotin's Melina was the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold and Sharon Stone's Lori was a sweetly passive housewife. Here, when Biel and Beckinsale square off against each other, it's with all the skill and intensity of the men. Similarly, they don't break a single bone as they scramble across rooftops and leap from one ridiculously perilous height after another. Verdict: New Total Recall slicker but soulless
Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter Drawing again from the seminal Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, the current version directed by Len Wiseman retains the essentials of the original material but twists the action more toward a futuristic thriller.
The outcome is engaging enough, though not entirely satisfying from either a genre or narrative standpoint, lacking substance and a degree of imagination. Brand recognition, along with the curiosity factor and a name cast in muscular action roles, should make for a lucrative first weekend, but falloff could be somewhat steep in subsequent frames.
Instead of a brain-bending blast of sci-fi fun, we’re left with a total retread. The race to recover hidden items, the videotaped messages from the past, the drone army, the lens flares, the silly subversive slogans on city walls — it’s one slick-looking flashback to other, better movies, all sandwiched between frenetic action scenes.
The story seems so rote, and the characters so soulless, that it’s almost impossible to give half a crap about Quaid as he tangles with his cunning wife Lori (a rather relentless Kate Beckinsale) and reconnects with his dream girl from the past, a resistance fighter named Melina (Jessica Biel).
Beckinsale kicks a fair amount of ass in the film even though her colleagues on the police force shoot like stormtroopers. But Farrell’s flat performance makes it hard to care whether the endless sprays of automatic gunfire ever hit home. I’ll take Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hammy original take on the Quaid character any day, but probably no actor could utter this script’s clunky one-liners and come away unscathed.
The one place director Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard, the Underworld films) clearly excels is the action.
There’s a tremendous use of vertical space during these sequences as the characters, whether on foot or in flying cars, tear through futuristic cityscapes. Energetic yet easy to follow, the chases unfold almost like a platformer come to life.