Colin Farrell as Doiglas Quaid in Total Recall
Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, takes a more po-faced and serious approach to the adaption of Philip K Dick’s short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale than the original film.
Colin Farrell replaces Schwarzenegger in the lead role as Douglas Quaid, an engineer in the heart of a dystopian ‘Colony ’ who dreams he can be something more. A colleague tells Quaid that Rekall can give him all that he desires through a process that involves implanting a false, yet desirable, memory in any individual. However, when he arrives at the Rekall it appears that his dreams may not be so far from the truth and all hell breaks loose.
At the beginning of the film we are drawn into Quaid’s world, a futuristic shanty town where the dull concrete buildings tower into the sky and loom over the bustling markets below. The opening art direction is strong, immediately immersing you into this dystopian fantasy - the streets may be filled with flashing electronic screens that are a staple of science fiction, but they are also filled with dirt, grime and character. This striking set design is complemented by Farrell’s performance as the confused Quaid, whose vulnerability is compounded by feelings of oppression from a state that ostracises those without power. The film also begins with a series of intriguing ideas: how does a society deal with overpopulation and what would you do with a machine which can replace your memories with more desirable ones, enabling you to choose your identity.
Initially, as Quaid coolly dispatches a series of guards in the first action scene and you see him seamlessly move from confused civilian to deadly agent in a matter of moments, it’s exciting and gives the feeling that the remake may surpass the original. Sadly, the rest of the film disappoints. As the film’s action scenes become louder and the set pieces larger, the film becomes diluted as we are transported from the Colony’s vibrant streets to the dull white walls of the government offices. The film fails to capitalise on its initial intriguing ideas and instead moves into generic action film territory, good taking on evil in a series of gunfights. The action scenes are by no means poor, but they lack the raw intensity of recently released The Raid or the intelligence of the Bourne Series.
Total Recall is a watchable action film - Beckinsale charging around manically with an assault rifle is entertaining, along with Farrell who puts in a good performance - but none of the cast can elevate the film above mediocre, including Bill Nighy and Jessica Biel whose characters are limited and lack depth. Lacking the humour of the original, it fails to build on the ambition of its opening scenes. In the end, it’s a middle of the road blockbuster fare that could have been a lot more.
Total Recall official website