Alasdair Stuart writes for Bleeding Cool.
Welcome to the future! Again! It’s 2012 and Total Recall has been remembered for us wholesale by a whole new bunch of film makers. I find it utterly appropriate, and weirdly metatextual, that Len Wiseman’s behind the lens on this one. He’s ended up filling the ‘Loud, flashy and slightly crazed’ action movie slot that Paul Verhoeven did in the ’90s so he’s very much the sensible choice for this. And sensible is the word to describe at least the first of our nine thoughts.
1. Colin Farrell Is More Interesting Than Arnold Schwarzenegger
I can prove it too, with science. Well, with words, but words written on a computer and they count as scientific…ish. Shut up. Anyway, Farrell is an infinitely more interesting protagonist for this for two reasons; firstly he’s capable of at least three emotions, none of which involve him screaming ‘BILLEEEE! GET TOODA CHOPPPPAAA!’ and secondly because he actually looks a little like a rat faced crazy killer. There;s a slightly off air to Farrell’s work which when he’s on form he plays with and I hope he does that here.
2. The Future is Rubbish
That shot of Farrell leaning on his balcony, complete with crappy picnic table, looks like something out of Metal Hurlant doesn’t it? I like the idea they’re playing with here of enclosed cities, and the stratification of social strata that comes with it. Also it makes a pretty background for the violence.
3. John Cho
Okay it looks like he gets hideously marmalised but John Cho, especially bleached blonde John Cho, is always good value for money. Besides, in my head, right now, there are cut scenes to this involving Neil Patrick Harris riding a unicorn.
4. The Violence Part I
That digital shot of the hit team being taken out by Farrell. Shall we call it Victimovision? Yes, let’s. That’s a smart, technical piece of CGI which doesn’t look entirely awful and gives us a clever perspective on how scary Quaid is. Plus the ‘Coming back to himself holding the gun’ moment at the end is absolutely a Bourne callback.
5. The Violence Part II
Kate Beckinsale appears to be channeling both Sharon Stone and Maggie Q in Live Free or Die Hard here, and the idea of Lori as an energiser bunny of death is a fun one. I note with interest that there’s no hint of the ‘Is she really his wife?’ stuff from the original and I’m curious whether that’s going to come in. Beckinsale seems to be playing straight up villainess here and that could make a refreshing change.
6. The Dessert Trolley Of Brutality:The Violence Part III
There’s some funny business with gravity a couple of times here and I wonder if some of the action beats from the multiple Total Recall sequel scripts have found a home. I particularly like the look of the zero-g gunfight and again there’s a very European science fiction look to a lot of this, from the guns to the remarkably shiny power armour, it all looks slightly lived in.
7. Coffee and Face Punching:The Violence Part IV
At the time, Total Recall gained some notoriety for the fight scene between the female leads. Which was interesting at the time but looking back the fight’s short, over choreographed and doesn’t have much psychology behind it. The fight between the female leads here looks much more promising, if nothing else because they both have credible action credentials and appear to be able to throw a punch like they mean it. Plus, Jessica Biel once named her shoulder muscles. True story.
8. It’s TV’S Bryan Cranston
A man most of you hip types know as the lead in Breaking Bad, but for me, he’ll always be Hal Nolastname from Malcolm in the Middle. Cranston gives good weaselly evil, and crucially he actually looks like a physical match for Farrell whereas poor Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside looked like a couple of Schwarzenegger‘s toothpicks.
9. Mask! The Mighty Power That Can Save The Day!
One of my favourite beats from the original was the ‘Arnie gets his ass to Mars dressed like a lady who gurns a lot’ mask and there looks to be a callback to that here with Farrell using a hologram mask to disguise his appearance. Which of course malfunctions, giving us the same scene but with less clunky effects. This is a smart move, throwing something familiar in but turning it on it’s head. Plus you never know, we could still get Colin Farrell disguised as a gurning lady.