2012, Movies

Total Recall (2012, Len Wiseman)

Let’s get the good of this totally unnecessary remake out of the way:

  • The production design is fantastic, worthy of Blade Runner – which it is (very) heavily inspired by – the Fifth Element, Minority Report and the equal of respected modern sci fi epics like Pacific Rim. It’s better than the original, I would say.
  • And there are a number of neat ideas that didn’t originate with the original film (almost as if they were created in a script that wasn’t intended as a Total Recall remake but were later hijacked to a new purpose…) not the least of which is the tunnel from the UK to Australia.
  • Also, Colin Ferrell is, like, really, surprisingly good. (And I am a Beckinsdale fanboy…)

On, the whole, were it not a remake, this seemingly has the makings of a strong “soft” science fiction action thriller. So that’s the good.Unfortunately, there’s also the bad.

  • The opening nearly gave me a seizure.
  • The division of the world doesn’t really make any sense if you think about it. I mean, why is everyone American in the United Federation of Britain and in the Colony?
  • That production design of the Colony really is seriously cribbing from Blade Runner, way too much.
  • The elevator, around which this entire reboot is based – so that it no longer has to take place on Mars – doesn’t make any sense. Let me ask you something: is gravity something that keeps you, dear reader, on the ground every second of your life? Yes? Well, now let me ask you, why it would need to “reverse” in order to keep you on the ground in, say, Australia? See, I’ve been to Australia, and I didn’t need to get the gravity flipped or reversed or what have you on my way over, because, um, gravity is pulling everyone and everything on the planet towards the core of the planet. Are these writers not on earth??? And the problem with all this is that this stupid plot point, that anyone writing the script could have just looked up – or, you know, traveled to the Southern Hemisphere without flipping – and re-written becomes absolutely essential to Ferrell’s and Biel’s survival later on. Oops.
  • Somehow they take the unbelievability of the original to new heights: despite all the elaborate sets and CGI, the movie still has moments of sublime ridiculousness which remind us of the sort of campy aspect of the original – and Verhoeven in general – that feel utterly out of place in this expensive, serious film. (One example: everyone is in slow motion except the bullets…)
  • I don’t buy the elevator as a serious invasion tool.
  • The film is seriously white-washed, given the casting of the two major female roles. (I guess the friend is supposed to make up for that.)

Yeah, so it was almost better than I expected. Aspects of it were better than expected…


Edit: Via a discussion on facebook, I have been informed that, barring the impossibility of digging a tunnel through the earth’s core and provided the tunnel did indeed go through the core and not around it as I assumed, one would, in theory, experience zero G in such an elevator. So I’m wrong about that. (I did not take physics.) I feel like I should adjust my rating because I feel like the elevator struck me as the most ridiculous part of a somewhat ridiculous film.

But something I can’t quite articulate is keeping me from doing so. Perhaps the overt seriousness of everything.

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