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Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Movie Review: TOTAL RECALL

Director: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy, Bryan Cranston, John Cho

The world has been left with two territories after a chemical warfare, The United Federation of Britain and The Colony (the land we know as Australia). Citizens can travel between the two territories using an underground portal called "The Fall". Doug Quaid (Farrell) is factory worker living on The Colony but works in the UFB. Night after night, he is awoken by the same reoccurring nightmare. Rekall is a company that can implant memories into your mind giving you a life you actually have never had in order to escape the monotony of your real life. Doug has heard mixed reactions to Rekall. His friend, Harry (Bokeem Woodbine), recounts a story he heard of a man needing a lobotomy after his experience with Rekall. Another coworker says he has used Rekall numerous times with wonderful results.

Doug bites the bullet and heads into Rekall. Rekall employee, McClane (Cho), explains to him that he can have any sort of imaginary life he wants. He decides to be a secret agent/spy. He sits down and goes through the standard tests and procedures before the memories can be implanted. The alarms go off and McClane stops the machine and accuses Doug of being a real life spy. Memories cannot be implanted into people of a life they already lead. Doug freaks out not knowing what is going on as he is not a spy. A SWAT team enters the room and Doug suddenly uses martial arts skills he didn't know he had knocking them all out. He heads back to his apartment to tell his wife Lori (Beckinsale) about what happened at Rekall. Lori tries strangling him revealing to him that she is not the wife he thought he had. She is an undercover agent sent to monitor him. He flees the apartment in a high energy chase sequence and gets rescued by Melina (Biel) who is the girl that has been appearing in his nightmares. While on the run, he recovers messages from his former self left for him regarding his previous life. He was once an agent working for Chancellor Coohagen (Cranston) until he was captured for secretly working with the resistance movement against him.

Total Recall is a remake of the 1990 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Farrell role and Sharon Stone as his wife. It has been many years since my last viewing of that one, so I can't really compare the two but this one does not seem very similar to the movie I remember the original being. The characters have the same name, but there is no journey to Mars in this one. In case you were curious, the three breasted woman does make an appearance.

The movie feels more like a video game than a sci-fi/action movie. Doug and Melina always seem to be on the run making the movie feel like one giant chase sequence over and over. The story is left on the back burner to pay more attention to the countless action sequences. The special effects and design of the two territories make the sequences look great and are definitely high in energy. Kate Beckinsale is one fierce kick-ass action star. I give the movie credit for not being a complete knock-off of the original, but I think it could have gone way further with the story. If you are going to remake a sci-fi/action movie, it should be remade with a purpose. High octane action sequences with quick editing can make for a good movie, but this should have been a great movie.

RATING: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

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