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TOTAL RECALL (director: Len Wiseman; screenwriters: Kurt Wimmer/Mark Bomback/story by Kurt Wimmer, Jon Povill and Dan O’Bannon/based on the short story by Philip K. Dick “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”; cinematographer: Paul Cameron; editor: Christian Wagner; music: Harry Gregson-Williams; cast: Colin Farrell (Douglas Quaid/Hauser), Kate Beckinsale (Lori Quaid), Jessica Biel (Melina), Bryan Cranston (Cohaagen), Bokeem Woodbine (Harry), Bill Nighy (Matthias), Will Yun Lee (Marek), John Cho (McClane), Milton Barnes (Resistance Fighter); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Toby Jaffe/Neal H. Moritz; Columbia Pictures; 2012)

“After a fast start it runs out of ideas and energy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

While I don’t have total recall of the 1990 original by Paul Verhoeven starring a leaden Arnold Schwarzenegger,I do remember despite its flaws and the way it ruined the concept of Philip K. Dick’s source material of “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” that it was still much smarter and a better executed film than this needless, uninteresting and humorless remake. The pic plays out as an all non-stop action and no substance futuristicsci-fithriller. So-so director Len Wiseman (“Underworld”/”Live Free or Die Hard“)and writersKurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback keep it derivative of such films as Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Ridley Scott’ Blade Runner. After a fast start it runs out of ideas and energy.

Warning: spoilers in the following paragraph.

Set at the end of the 21st century, the world is all but destroyed because of chemical warfare, except for the wealthy United Federation of Britain, that’s run by the tyrant Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), and The Colony, a place that looks like Australia and whose poor inhabitants serve as a source of cheap labor for the Federation. The sad-assed assembly-line factory worker Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) resides in The Colony, in a shithole, with hottie wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale, wife of the director in real-life), but despite his sexy mate is unhappy and dreams about better things than his boring workaday grind and shows displeasure when he’s rejected for a promotion by the big bosses. Tempted by a new worker to try Rekall, on his visit there he requests a James Bond fantasy vision he wants turned into a memory. But things go haywire after a memory-implant injection reveals he’s not who he thinks he is and at that point the place is raided by the Stormtrooper-like Robocops. After taking down ten of these well-trained killers, Quaid goes on the run and learns little by little that he has been living a lie and is no other than the traitorous Hauser, the legendary intelligent agent, someone who betrayed his assassin assignment for the evil Cohaagen and sided with Matthias (Bill Nighy), the leader of the Resistance fighters. After a lot of noise, splash and kick-boxing fights, Quaid finds his true past and unites with his dream-girl hottie girlfriend Melina (Jessica Biel), a rebel fighter from back then, and the two battle in the cityscape background against the evil forces of Cohaagen and his ruthless phony spy wife Lori, and they try to save The Colony from destruction.

All the psychological trappings and anything worth thinking about are stripped clean from this disposable and forgettable film, one that has a few special effect moments (like flying cars) and some exciting rooftop chases and fights in sleek mod elevator shafts to stop this flick from being a complete drag.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”