The review in this post is the unedited copy of the version published in our film review column “Animadversion”, published 26th August 2012 in IMAGES on SUNDAY, Dawn Newspaper. Published version is linked at the end of the post.
Memory – Thou Is Wiped!
By Farheen Jawaid
If you want to watch a movie that is a killer combo of waste of time and logic then Total Recall is the flick for you.
Recall is adapted from Philip K. Dick’s "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" and retitled as 1990’s Total Recall – the one starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone and directed by Paul Verhoeven. While that version may not have been a cinematic masterpiece, it was indubitably better than this one. Visually referencing two of the most remembered cyberpunk/sci-fi noir movies, Blade Runner and Minority Report (also by Phillip Dick), this Recall, which stars Colin Farrell as an amnesiac living a false memory, is a pale imitation.
Following the same routine as the first, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) lives a contented, ideal life. He has a loving wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), a best friend (Bokeem Woodbine) and a factory job in future dystopia where Earth is divided in two parts after coming out of a chemical warfare. One of the divides is the United Federation of Britain – a model city sporting hovering cars, overextended buildings and chokingly calm, totalitarian world order. The other is The Colony – a wet China Town with neony-flares (Re: Blade Runner) and a melting pot for brewing resistance. The way to commute between these two livable places is through a mean, big, tunnel drilled through the Earth’s core.
Even with a peaceful lifestyle, Quaid is restless and discontent, prone to infrequent nightmares. He heads to Rekall, virtual dream vacation providers. They let you choose and play your fantasy in your head via a big sparkly machine. His vacation doesn’t even begin when suddenly the government bursts into the room and tag him as a spy. On the run without a clue, he meets Melina (Jessica Biel), the girl from his nightmare and tries to pin-together pieces of a broken jigsaw. While he does so audience, who have not seen the last Recall, will be scratching their head to find consistency and coherence in the plot – along with the ones who have seen the previous one.
Recall darts along all over the place trying to unravel a twisting-mystery. Quaid’s clues, and accomplices in crime, is a lack of genuine depth, a noisy production, badly edited action sequences – featuring leading ladies Jessica Biel, and especially Kate Beckinsale, in fierce hand-to-hand fisticuffs or rata-tatting gun-play.
At one point one really feels for Colin Farrell, who is one of the hardest working actors in our time, but can’t seem to find a juicy commercial movie that can cross the finishing line worthy of a successful blockbuster.
This Recall is directed by Beckinsale’s husband, Len Wiseman, and the man still has to impress post his first two Underworld movies. At least last Recall, which was modeled around Schwarzenegger, his flexing muscles and one-liners, had its entertainment factor tugging it though.
Wiseman’s version, written by Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium) and Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard) is astounding. One never knows how pointless and emotionally vacant Quaid’s whole enterprise is, until he’s seen the movie.
Released by Columbia Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sense hammering action and bare-seconds of unwarranted nudity. Even Farrell can’t make anyone remember (or is it Recall) this washout in the future.
The published version is at: http://dawn.com/2012/08/26/animadversion-memory-wipe/
And it looks like this in the paper: