Monday, August 6, 2012


Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, Bill Nighy
Studio: Original Films/ Columbia Pictures
Our Rating: ***
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review by James Colt Harrison

Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel run a lot in the new version of Total Recall, an updated version of the original 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone science fiction stunner from director Paul Verhoeven. It’s a good thing they are young and fit, or the picture would have ended after the first three minutes.

Wow, is this film ever a heart-stopping thriller! From the very first frame until the last, there is hardly ever a time when you, or the cast, gets to breathe normally. Relentless, relentless is the speed of the action and the movie has one daring escape after another for our leading actors. Director Len Wiseman has fashioned a film that never lets up on the thrills, the chases, or the explosions for a second. No normal person could ever survive what Farrell and Biel must go through from beginning to end. But then, they are movie stars, so they barely get a scratch. They should have ended up in complete plaster body casts after diving off cars, out of planes, down elevator shafts and off buildings to land in the fruit and vegetable carts below. Well, I correct that. Jessica did get a small bandage on her forehead to make it authentic. And they made Colin scruffy with a five day beard so he would look tough instead of like his usual cute Irish little-boy face. Alas, it doesn’t work as he still looks cute with his brown button eyes, and Jessica is more beautiful than ever with a tiny smudge on her face and her huge Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat teeth blinding us with their DentuCreme shine.

A note must be made about the ingenious sets. Production Designer Patrick Tatopoulos has imagined buildings hanging unsupported somehow in the air with cantilevers even Frank Lloyd Wright would admire. Flying cars also hang in the air and whoosh around the sky freeways with ease and break-neck speed. Top-notch production design makes the film an architectural wonder.

Plot? Oh, does the film really have to have one? Screenwriters Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback have fashioned a modernized version of the original Phillip K. Dick story. Mr. Dick would probably be spinning in his grave had he seen how his little story has evolved. But the two new guys have added enough action for three pictures, and it all comes off beautifully.

Somehow, Colin’s noggin has gotten all fouled up and confused, He goes to Rekall, a company that will plant realistic memories into his lobes. Young actor John Cho has donned a white fright wig to look older so he can play the owner/operator of all the fancy machines that look like Frankenstein’s old haunt. He throws switches, attaches hemodialysis tubes to Colin so we can see his blood flow frantically, and glues lie-detector type electrodes to his head. Not to reveal a plot spoiler, but we find out Colin is really a slimy spy, and that causes the machines to explode in horror.

You see, Colin and Jessica have to fight off Bryan Cranston who plays the mad Chancellor, who wants to take over the world. All egomaniacs want to rule the earth, so this is not a new plot point. But Cranston gives it a good try by desperately looking to kill the leader of the resistance corps, played by Bill Nighy, normally a comic on film.

In the meantime, Kate Beckinsale, normally a very funny lady in real life, plays a tough, hard-as-nails, nasty cohort of Cranston’s. Her main job is to punch Colin in the face, kick him between the legs, and generally demolish him. She succeeds. But since Colin is the star of the movie, he miraculously recovers for the next punishing scene.

The whole thing doesn’t make much sense, but it is great fun, thrilling, astonishing, and wild. Most teen-age boys will love it. Ladies might like seeing Colin in the buff.

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