Saturday, August 4, 2012

Review: Total Recall (2012)

The pre-release buzz on Total Recall (2012) was not good – most saying that it fell short of the original.  I myself thought the first Recall was entertaining, but given that it featured Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, and Michael Ironside – three actors who have enjoyed varying degrees of success not necessarily tied to their acting prowess, definitely sent me into the movie with diminished expectations.  The fact that some were using the presence of the three-breasted woman (played by Kaitlyn Leeb) in the film to generate chatter about the project really punctuated my concerns about the movie.

Set against the backdrop of a post apocalypse world with civil war tensions rising, the plot of the movie follows the plight of Doug Quaid – a blue-collar worker who is plagued with feelings of discontent.  A visit to Rekall – a memory implant company – opens up a reality in which he is a key operative who may hold the key to easing the delicate political balance that plagues what’s left of the world.

I get a kick out of the people who in their reviews of this movie called it terrible or incredibly disappointing.  I don’t know what they expected to see onscreen when the lights went dim in the theater – perhaps Shakespeare in the Park – but to me the movie plays like your prototypical summer action flick.   And that’s perfectly okay, because not every movie can or should be The Godfather or Inception. Sometimes a movie can just be visual entertainment.  The plot of this movie is not as intricate as it may seem at face value and there are no real supremely intelligent reveals to elevate the proceedings.  The action scenes are slick and well choreographed and the pacing brisk and steady.  This one is not going to make anyone’s Best of the Year list in any category and you won’t find it hotly discussed at any MENSA meetings, but it delivers exactly what most should expect of it – guns, explosions, and mayhem. 

If it is possible to be the lead in a big budget action movie and not make a real impact then Colin Farrell accomplishes that feat.  I cannot really think of one memorable moment for him in the film – beyond having a really cool phone in hand (literally) – and if ever there was a scene that was well shot or choreographed, he was relegated to second fiddle by one of the other principals.  He’s not a good actor and he has only one gear.  You could probably make a compilation of his work in Minority Report, S.W.A.T., The Recruit, and this film and be hard pressed to figure out which scene was from which movie. 

As for Kate Beckinsale, she does some really good work in this movie.  Her performance (and that of her stunt double) is the biggest reason why Farrell’s act doesn’t derail the proceedings.  She uses her range to slide seamlessly from the role of a loving wife into that of an insanely aggressive assassin.  On the opposite end of that spectrum is Jessica Biel who was in the movie, shot some guns, flashed puppy eyes at Farrell’s Quaid, and threw the occasional punch or two.  The word “uninspired” best describes her work.   Rounding out the cast was Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy - two terrific actors who always bring conviction to their respective roles, but sadly they were underused in this movie.  To have that kind of talent at your disposal and not fully exploit it represents a missed opportunity.

So despite these shortcomings, the film is still entertaining so I guess the MVP of the movie has to go to director Len Wiseman and his creative team.  The futuristic visuals are fun and engaging and there is a couple of show stopping action sequences.  If you appreciate the less cerebral brand action movie loaded with big explosions and great visuals then I would recommend seeing this in the cinema, otherwise this is more of a rental flick.  Again, it’s probably not going to make it into your DVD collection, but it is still worth a look. 

Standout Performance: Kate Beckinsale dominates this movie from start to finish and delivers by far the best performance of the cast.  


  1. Good review Tony. This film was a whole bunch of fun and even though it was very predictable, I still turned my brain off for a good 2 hours and enjoyed myself. Also, can't go wrong with a cast like Biel, Beckinsale, Farrell, and Cranston, just to name a few.

  2. Not a bad movie and decent acting. Worth the ticket money.