Thursday, August 2, 2012

Total Recall (2012) - Movie Review

Everyone is familiar with the original Total Recall which featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his most iconic performances. Adapted from a short story by Phillip K. Dick, Paul Verhoeven was able to create a campy science fiction adventure that really grabbed audiences at the time. Now, Colin Farrell is put in the lead role and director Len Wiseman is tasked with bringing a whole new version of the story to the screen.

After nearly every corner of the world has been ravaged by chemical warfare, there are only two remaining habitable regions where what is left of Earth's population struggles to survive. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker who, along with his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), is struggling to make a living and finds himself waking up from the same disturbing dream at the exact same time every day.

Sensing something isn't right about who he is and where he should be in life, Quaid turns to a company called Rekall which is known for implanting hyper real adventures in to people's brains as if they were their own memories. Want to be a super star athlete or a world renowned entertainer? Rekall can make it happen. In Quaid's case, he chooses to become an international spy who is also a double agent.

Right as Quaid's adventurous memories are about to be implanted, he finds himself right in the middle of a real life action adventure where he has all the abilities and attributes of the super spy he was only hoping to have artificial memories of. What happens next will determine the fate of the entire surviving population of the planet, although that is assuming everything that's happening is real and not just the culmination of implanted memories courtesy of the fine folks at Rekall.

One thing I have to put out there is how, at the beginning of the film, the first thing you see on the screen is a logo for production company "Original Film". This bit of irony at the beginning of a movie that is widely known to be a remake was not lost on an audience that couldn't help but laugh at what they just saw. After that fun little moment passes, the movie instantly grabs your attention with a visual style that is so vividly futuristic that you just want to hit the pause button and examine every fine detail of every robot, vehicle, building, and...well, everything.

With dynamic imagery in place, the story still manages to take the forefront with a non stop barrage of action sequences that are just as original as they are entertaining. It was very impressive to see how futuristic technology was used to create innovate scenarios for chases and fight scenes. Even though the vast majority of the movie is CGI, you don't really care because everything is so jaw-droppingly awesome.

Speaking of things that are awesome, I was very happy to see both Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel really go after their roles and put everything they have in to what is a pretty intense action movie. I expected Beckinsale to bring it since she has done so well in the Underworld series and here she does not disappoint. Her character is relentless and, in a way, actually reminded me of the T1000 in Terminator 2.

(No, that comment doesn't give away anything about her character)

As for Colin Farrell, I have to say I really liked his take on the lead character as he was able to really show what was going on in the mind of a man who may or may not be making some amazing discoveries about who he really is. Where Farrell really excels is how he gives Quaid an underlying sense of calm and strength that nicely balances out all of the confusion and turmoil going on in his head.

This version of "Total Recall" was a really fun surprise and I am actually looking forward to seeing the movie again. Its not often that a remake can hold its own when held up to an original that is so well known, but this one does a great job at putting a brand new spin on the material while still managing to give a nod and a wink back at its predecessor.

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