East Penn Press

Saturday, July 4, 2020

'Total Recall' is needed

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 by The Press in Focus

What I recall after seeing "Total Recall" are weapons, shooting, leaping, hand-to-hand combat, violence, explosions, flying cars, chases, and more weapons, shooting, leaping, hand-to-hand combat, violence, explosions, flying cars, chases and more weapons.

If I sound like a broken record it's because I am mirroring the images and impressions of "Total Recall," a reimagining, or reboot in simple words, a remake of the 1990 movie that starred Arnold Schwarznegger, based on author Philip K. Dick's "We Remember It For You Wholesale."

Colin Farrell is factory worker Douglas Quaid-Hauser, whose memory has been erased by Rekall. Or has it?

He's married to Lori Quaid (Kate Beckinsale). Or is he?

Soon, Lori is beating the tar out of Hauser. After he escapes, he meets up with Melina (Jennifer Beal). Or does he?

I could care less. After about two hours of pummeling, I felt as if I was beat up.

"Total Recall," filmed in dark tones of brown, olive and blue, has amazing images of The United Federation of Britain and The Colony (Australia), linked by a supersonic, subsurface transporter called "The Fall" that cuts to the core literally of the Earth. The city of the future looks a lot like that in "Blade Runner" (1982).

The movie is set at the end of the 21st century when its stated in the opening prologue that because of global chemical warfare, only the Federation and the Colony are inhabitable. The resistance, cleverly called the Resistance, against Earth's ruling totalitarian regime, is led by Mathias (Bill Nighy).

The film-makers give movie-goers some eye-candy in a few of the early scenes when Colin Farrell is wearing only his pajama pants. I'll say this for Farrell. The guy is buff. In "Total Recall," he recalls a young Mel Gibson. Farrell acquits himself well. He has presence, with that handsome face, piercing eyes and black semaphore eyebrows.

Kate Beckinsale, also in the early going, is lovely to behold, and establishes a credible presence.

Jennifer Biel, also easy on the eyes, more than holds her own.

What's most interesting to me about the new "Total Recall" is its pedigree. Director Len Wiseman ("Live Free or Die Hard," "Underworld" series), who is married to Kate Beckinsale, is working from a screenplay by Kurt Wimmer ("Salt," "Law Abiding Citizen," "The Thomas Crown Affair") and Mark Bomback ("Unstoppable," "Race to Witch Mountain") from a screen story by Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon and Jon Povill (the original "Total Recall") and Wimmer. The end credits state the movie is based on "Total Recall," the 1990 movie directed by Paul Verhoeven.

So, that's about all I can recall about "Total Recall."

The "it was only a dream" scenario in "Total Recall" is one of the most cliched screenplay plot lines imaginable. "Total Recall" also deploys another hackneyed plot device, that of the "ticking clock." And what seem to be called Synthethic Battle Soldiers look like Storm Troopers from "Star Wars."

To this, I would say: Wake me when it's over. Then I will tell you what I saw.

"Total Recall," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language; Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi; Run time: 1 hr., 58 mins.; Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "Total Recall" was filmed in Ontario, Canada.

Box Office, Aug. 10: "The Bourne Legacy" opened at No. 1, with $40.2 million, victorious over "The Campaign," opening at No. 2, with $27.4 million, and pushing "The Dark Knight Rises" to No. 3 after three weeks in a row at No. 1, $19.5 million, $390.1 million, four weeks, and keeping "Hope Springs" opening at No. 4, $15.6 million for the weekend; $20 million since its Aug. 8 opening.

5. "Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days," $8.2 million, $30.5 million, two weeks; 6. "Total Recall," $8.1 million, $44.1 million, two weeks; 7. "Ice Age: Continental Drift," $6.7 million, $144 million, five weeks; 8. "Ted," $3.2 million, $209.9 million, seven weeks; 9. "Step Up Revolution," $2.8 million, $30.1 million, three weeks; 10. "The Watch," $2.2 million, $31.3 million, three weeks

Unreel: Aug. 17:

"The Odd Life of Timothy Green," PG (opening Aug. 15): Jennifer Garner stars in the fantasy comedy drama about a childless couple whose wish comes true.

"Sparkle," PG-13: This was to have been the late Whitney Houston's big comeback about a fictional 1960's Motown female vocal trio.

"The Expendables 2," R: Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are back, facing off with Jean-Claude Van Damme in the action-adventure film.

"ParaNorman," PG: A boy can speak with the dear, and not so dear, departed in the animation fantasy comedy.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.com, and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Lehigh Valley Community Public Radio WDIY 88.1 FM, wdiy.org, where the movie reviews are archived. Email Paul Willistein pwillistein@ tnonline.com and on Facebook.