Total Recall – review

I like Colin Farrell.

There, I’ve said it.

It’s out.
The world knows it now.

I’ve liked him ever since I saw Ondine back in 2009. Not only was he excellent in that but however heartfelt his performance was in Ondine, the next thing I saw him in was brutally funny, convincing, and honest with In Bruges.

I’m not entirely sure Len Wiseman likes Colin Farrell.
I say so because Wiseman expects Farrell to complete the Atlas-like task of holding-up a film with more problems in it than Underworld has vampires.

Total Recall could have done with a few vampires.
It might have made it funnier or existentially more interesting instead of just one chase and/or fight scene after another.

The action poles are switched from Mars and Earth of the 1990 film to ‘The Colony’ and the ‘United Federation of Britain’, respectively. Federated with what it never quite explains, nor feels the need to apparently, as most people from Britain now seem to speak with American accents.

Hell, everybody speaks with an American accent – even Bill Nighy (?!) except for Kate Beckinsale who is obviously a baddy; you know why?

Well, no me neither really [the film never definitely states it apart from all the chasing and the fighting] but she speaks with a British accentOf course. Why bother with psychological depth when you can just give the baddy a Britisher accent?
Oh, but don’t be offended nice British people, because the real Big-Boss Baddy has an American accent so that’s alright then. [For anyone not familiar with colonial-history, ‘The Colony’ used to be an offensive word for Australia.]

As you can tell from my facetious rant, the politics of this film aren’t very well thought out. Neither is the violence.

Colin Farrell struggles in what is an OK performance amidst a torrent of tripe.

I’m not sure what species of tree Jessica Biel was channeling but it needed trimming. Kate Beckinsale was fun but running, shooting, and kicking does not a performance make. Unfortunately, even Bill Nighy and Bryan Cranston dropped the ball on this one: both phoned in their performances from so far away that they were as blurry as most of the outside, background-London shots were obviously-CG.

It pains me to say it but Colin’s the third best thing it; Bokeem Woodbine is second; and first is whoever designed the robots.

Those are some slimline, lovely looking robots. However menacing they were supposed to be, I spent most of the film thinking how excellently designed they were and that they seemed to have a real weight to them unlike the performances surrounding them.

There’s the crux, too.

The film is so centered on the technology of itself that you begin to think about it a lot.
If a film wants you to look at its design and think about how great and flashy the world they’ve built is, you’re going to think about it.

It’s just a shame the filmmakers didn’t.

Why does everywhere in The Colony look like it belongs in a sunny day in Blade Runner? Why does everyone, everywhere speak with an American accent? Why does all of The Colony look like a Chinatown version of itself? Why do they still have cars with tires being used by people who live on the ground in London and how is it that that part actually gets any sunlight when there are hulking great towers of concrete and steel hovering above London continuously? Surely these bottom-dwellers would have evolved to have skin which absorbs as much sunlight as is possible because they’re dwarfed by these impossible floaty-building things?

I should say that there’s an argument to be made that the filmmakers purposefully made the outside world look ‘unreal’ so as to make us question whether the world around our characters is actually the real world.
Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that the filmmakers didn’t consider that because there was a lot of usage of said outside.

It isn’t a spoiler to say that people in the world of this Total Recall regularly travel through the core of the earth. Because the film’s set in the 22nd Century, let’s briefly forget how incredibly difficult this would be to do and focus on ‘The Fall’ [as its known in film]: wouldn’t it have made just as much sense to build around the core so as to use the gravitational pull and push as a slingshot?

Why haven’t helicopters improved? How is it those helicopters guns are so terrible? It’s the 22nd Century! Why are guns doing things at critical times that we would consider faulty in the 21st century?

Why does everyone speak with an American accent?!

When I’m left questioning a film so much, I find it amusing at best and annoying at worst.

The two best scenes of the film are: when Bokeem Woodbine presents us with the only scene in the film where you actually consider that they might take it in an interesting direction, a direction away from the original…but no; and when Colin fights a robot…with his bare hands.

I say the latter because I laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation. There had been fist fights a-go-go and Colin had beaten up most of them but then a Black Robot [most of the others were white] squared up to him, obviously Colin punched the robot in the metallic face. Nice one writers. You made me laugh.

At least the two heavyweights of the film duked it out at some point.

1/5 – one for effort, Colin, & the robots.


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