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Review – Total Recall

13 Aug 2012
Selective Memory
For a film that (however superficially) tussles with Platonic Realism, a spoilertastic opening spoils any sense of intrigue or mystery. Has insisting the audience wait impatiently while the protagonist spends an act catching up EVER paid off as a cinematic technique? Well Terminator: Salvation? Has it?!! Ultimately, had the audience shared in Quaid’s confusion, second guessed his second guesses, Total Recall would have packed more punch. While we’re on the subject of punch... in terms of raw action Total Recall is something very special indeed. The action explodes into glorious tracking shots as the Farreller pimp-slaps a squad of military police, partakes in celluloid’s most riveting domestic and flees Robocop during a rooftop chase.
It’s thrilling stuff, wonderfully shot and swiftly complimented by a kinetic magneto-car chase and a creative elevator hopping shootout just ten and twenty minutes after.Total Recall is a full on action film, folks! Though Kurt Wimmer’s tight script is dashed with wry humour and pithy quips, everyone plays it far too straight. ColinFarrell, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston seem ill at ease. Luckily, the consistently fantastic Kate Beckinsale shows ‘em how to REALLY compose yourself in an actioner!
Frustrated at having his scenes stolen, Farrell pulls a piece
Frustrated at having his scenes stolen, Farrell pulls a piece
LenWiseman paces his project well, segregating major altercations with insights into Quaid’s shrouded past or glimpses of this futuristic world. While unlikely to stagger genre fans, the Sci-Fi aesthetic of Wimmer and Wiseman’s post apocalyptic Earth is gorgeous. Gadget and gizmos feature as prominently as roofed cities and a Channel Tunnel through the planet’s core. Each scene is demarcated with technological wizardry, be it a holographic mask, electro-magnetic harness gun or sub-dermal Smartphone. Because, you know, the future and all that! Unfortunately, little screen-time is afforded the wider socio-political strife of a post-apocalyptic two continent Earth. Similarly, Quaid’s emotional trauma sits awkwardly on the backburner as the narrative bloats to epic grandeur. Ever a symptom of Hollywood, with spiking scale, seams unravel. Everything feels a touch stale and banal in the final act with double, triple and quadruple crosses failing to astound. Existential musings evaporate as the action ramps into a literal globetrotting crescendo. Sadly, at this stage even the film’s crowning jewel starts to smudge with choppy edits and questionable angles creeping in. You have a point. Maybe I AM being an unfair jerk!Total Recall’s finale combines fiery detritus, zero-gravity shoot-outs, scything machine gunnery and CQC aplenty. But it’s all too busy, hopping between the four leads and ultimately failing to deliver a single sequence as memorable as the opening Rekall fight!
Peculiar how the original film, a SCHWARZENEGGER vehicle, remains the more cerebral effort... Here we have a more believable front man, vastly superior action and joyous design. But it’s worth repeating the 2012 upgrade is straight action NOT an intellectual science fiction adventure. “If I am not me, then who the hell am I?” Deep.
A hug turns sinister towards the end of Act 1
A hug turns sinister towards the end of Act 1
Total Recall marks director Len Wiseman’s most accomplished entry and he’s fast becoming Hollywood’s most reliable action director. He just needs to encourage his cast to have as much fun with the script as his fabulous wife and to trust in the audience pleasing majesty that is the clear, wide-angle long shot.
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