A “re-imagined” version of the Philip K Dick story: “We can remember it for you wholesale”. Well that’s what they say when they don’t want you to compare it to a previous film based on the same story. In this case the 1990 film called Total Recall directed by Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Trooper) and staring Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator, Predator), same name, good start there chaps.
When I first heard of this remake, sorry “re-imagining”, I did shout a metaphorical “WHY!?” Then I saw the trailer and was willing to put the first film to the back of my mind. I was willing to try and forget the original so it’s a shame this 2012 version did not. Apparently, they want to remember it near wholesale. It’s a risky thing reminding people of the original. If you’re going to nod and wink, incite some nostalgia in the audience you better have as good a film as the original or better. Sadly, this is most definitely not better and I would be very kind to say it’s on the same level.
Lets not kid ourselves, the original was no tour-de-force in plot and character so, when I say this modern remake isn’t up to the original you know it’s not looking good. Character? You’d be hard pushed to find any and these are not no-name actors. Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston et al. Bryan Cranston! When he turns in a mediocre performance things must be sparse on the character front. Ironically some of the robots show more character than the main cast.
As with the Hunger Games the political message is handled with light brush strokes and there if you want to look for it. It’s so lightly painted in Total Recall’s case I’m not entirely sure what it’s supposed to be; anti-corporate?
The central theme and tag line of “What is real?” is given a cursory glance now and then with no real insight offered and even lacks focus on the question. But this is an action film you say. Theme? Plot? Ha! Character? You fool. Make things go boom.
The visual style is pretty much every other Philip K Dick inspired film you’ve seen before. I know Blade Runner and its gritty neo-noir looked great but can we move on? Please? The action scenes are mostly familiar fare bar the zero gravity scene which has near enough been done before but is inventive enough to get a pass. Maybe it’s just me but watching CGI things crashing into other CGI things just leaves me a little cold. The best action scene you’ve already seen in the trailer and it’s the hand-to-hand combat that delivers the best of the excitement. Having Biel and Beckinsale and not have them fight…
Even the one-liners, a watermark of an action film. Tell me a good action film that doesn’t have some great one-liners? Are mostly poor or even non-existent. There’s only one half decent one near the end. How the writers missed these I don’t know, I was making them up as I watched:
“Out the way. My wife’s trying to kill!” should of said Quaid.
“Forget her birthday?” Should of shouted some random drunk bloke.
They are all just screaming out but the writers manage to adeptly avoid them all unless they were written in 1990. Post your own below.
The British Federation – Odd I thought. Not European, Asian or American. It soon becomes clear that the usual, British equals bad guy troupe had to be respected and with the actual bad guy not being of such persuasion it was a cute way around it.
As much as I tried not to compare this 2012 version to the 1990 one I had no choice. I’d say 80% of the scenes are recycled from the original. If you have the choice, buy or rent the 1990 disc and catch this version on disc or streaming at a later date. A missed opportunity to really re-imagine the Philip K Dick story. I think they lacked the balls to veer to wildly from the original or they were produced into the ground.
Sound track for this review: Future of the Left – Robocop 4 – F**k off Robocop
Wishing I had 3 hands.
2.5/5 (A kick in the head for not taking me to Mars)