Review by Jake
Total Recall is a 2012 action/sci-fi film directed by Len Wiseman and starring Colin Farrell as Dennis Quaid, Lori Quaid, and Jessica Biel as Melina. Total Recall is about a factory worker named Dennis Quaid who is bored with his life and goes to visit rekall to get fake memories implented in his brain to let him live out his dream of being a secret agent. When its revealed that Quaid has repressed memories of really being a secret agent, he gets pulled into a government conspiracy. The film is a loose remake of the 1990 Total Recall which is an adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick story : We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this film so this isn’t going to be a long review but I thought I would give it a go nonetheless.
The Nothing: I honestly have nothing positive to say about this film. I tried really hard to think of something but I could not come up with anything.
The Leads: None of the lead actors in this movie gave a memorable performance. Collin Farrell as Dennis Quaid is unbelievable as both a factory worker and as a secret agent so it has that going against it. The relationship between Dennis and Lori does not work both on the level of them being a couple and later on the film the level of them being adversaries. The actual romance doesn’t work any better. Why are Dennis and Melina a thing ? Who cares ? There is no tension at all between the protagonists and the antagonists. Everybody seems like they are yawning their way through the film. I don’t blame the actors so much as I blame the mediocre writing and direction, although I do feel the actors were miscast.
The Themes: One of the main “themes” (and I use that term really loosely) is rich versus poor. This theme has been used a million times in a million different films and here there is nothing new said about anything this film raises. It brings up the issue of class division in the most shallow of ways and adds or says almost nothing to this horse that has been beaten to death so many times. All of the “bad guys” are mustache twirling evil and have no motivation aside from the fact that they are rich, powerful, evil, and presumably want to stay that way I guess. The “good guys” are good because they are poor and oppressed. I need something new or I need more motivation to care about what’s going on in the film besides the most stock theme and message in film.
The Cinematography: No shots in this movie interested me. There is no good camera work, no eye popping colors, no dark gritty feel, and no clever lighting. This film doesn’t take any creative risks with it’s look or design. It feels like a generic Hollywood 2012 blockbuster and that is exactly what it is going to look like in 20 years, hollow and empty.
The Action: Usually great actions films build tension by having us look at exciting set pieces involving heroes that we love and villains that we hate, well this film pretty much forgot all of that. None of the action is visceral, crunchy, or tense. This film feels like it has action because it thinks it has to. Action gets butts in seats and DVDs in DVD players so we gotta have a chase scene and some shootouts, lame.
The Pacing: The pacing of the film is just straight up bad. It starts with some boring setup and exposition and later on moves onto some snooze inducing action. It doesn’t use its down time the way it should. The film should have used the beginning to introduce us to characters we care about and a complex world that we can understand and then weave action into it slowly building to a climax. Instead the film dumps a bunch of subpar exposition on us and then doesn’t let up the brakes on the action train of mediocrity.
The Dialogue: There is little to no comic relief, no wit, no intelligence, no unique voice of character, just nothing. Everyone talks like they are in a movie and not in a tongue in cheek kinda way, more like in a hack writing kinda way.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The word I would use to describe this film is drab. It feels like it came off the assembly line of cookie cutter action/sci-fi films. This film plays it way too safe in terms of action and being a “deep sci-fi” film. There is nothing interesting going on. I would not call it bad because there is nothing going on that even musters up the courage to have enough personality to be bad. It is just a stale film that is so lifeless I hardly even remember it already. See the 1990 version if you want a fun,unique, well made action/sci-fi film. I can’t recommend this film unless you have a fetish for the mundane.