Learn to forget

Learn to forget

Some movies are not worth the brain storage space

By Tim Pompey 08/09/2012

Total Recall
Directed by Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel,
Bryan Cranston
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language  
1 hr. 58 mins.

Why was this film made? With a budget of almost $140 million, you’d think there would be something to highlight, but after recent summer releases such as The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises, this movie feels like a throwaway.


Of course, when it comes to special effects, no lack of expense has been spared. It also includes lots of chase scenes, weapons and a very sexy and angry Kate Beckinsale in hot pursuit of hunky Colin Farrell. Unfortunately, what it lacks most is a heart.


Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a 21st century worker in a robotics factory. Because the world has suffered through a deadly chemical war, there are only two inhabitable places left on earth — the United Kingdom and the Colony (what we know as Australia). Quaid lives in the Colony and works in the UK.


He loves his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), but hates his factory job and feels there’s something more interesting he should be doing. Out of frustration he visits Rekall, an entertainment company that chemically induces handpicked memories into a person’s bloodstream. In Quaid’s case, he wants to be a spy.


But when he’s hooked-up, Rekall discovers that he actually is a spy, maybe for the United Kingdom, maybe for the underground resistance. Quaid learns that his real memories have been erased and he’s been living under an assumed identity.


To add salt to his wounds, he learns that Lori is also a spy and has been keeping track of him while he’s been “disconnected.” Now that he’s back in service, she wants to capture and kill him.


But wait. That girl he’s been having nightmares about (Jessica Biel), she’s real. So while Lori the wife wants to kill him, Melina the dream girl appears out of nowhere to rescue him.


What follows are chases galore. Robotic cops shooting guns. Real cops shooting guns. Spies shooting guns. A little pause to catch our collective breath. More chases. More robots. More cops. More guns. It’s a gun rights advocate’s wet dream.


Give this film credit for being slick and well produced. If you like pure action, Recall will probably keep you entertained. Just don’t ask too many questions. Like how they actually built a train underground between the UK and the Colony, and why British Chancellor Cohaagen (Brian Cranston) is trying to secretly invade the Colony.


This movie is about technology, pure and simple. Director Len Wiseman, who directed Underworld and Live Free or Die Hard, seems to love his toys more than the people who play with them. If the toys were unique I would understand, but unfortunately we’ve seen these toys in films such as Blade Runner, Inception, and I, Robot.  Expensive? Yes. Shiny? Yes. Interesting? For techy toy buffs, maybe. But if you like a story to go with your playthings, you’ll be disappointed.


In addition, Wiseman has chosen a visual style that insists on using the camera as a spinning gyroscope. Whether to confuse or nauseate, I’m not sure, but the point of focus is often deliberately blurred and shaken. If you suffer from motion sickness, bring your Dramamine.


To answer your question, yes, there are actors in this film, but they’re only props hamstrung by mechanical dialogue and an obscure plot. Like good soldiers and spies, they seem to be following orders and running very hard. The best I can say for them is that they were well-paid to stay in great shape.


There’s a reason why Total Recall was released in August. The producers must have known its doglike qualities and decided to dump it and run. And no wonder. For a movie with this much firepower, one that should spend a little more time exploring the connection between memories and reality, this one is forgettable.

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