Total Recall Review: Sometimes Cool, Mostly Boring

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Does this remake manage to capture any magic at all? Not really.

On the outside, Total Recall can be seen as an interesting examination of reality with some great set pieces. But once you dive deeper you will realize that nothing is there. Nothing holds your interest. No character deserves your sympathy. In the end you will recall nothing.

Boasting a pretty admirable cast, Total Recall makes use of only a few of them. Bill Nighy and John Cho make the best of the short scenes they appear in, most of which have been ruined already by the trailers. Jessica Biel does a by the numbers action heroine while Colin Farrell seems so bored by everything going on around him. Only the two central villains, Bryan Cranston and Kate Beckinsale, manage to have some fun with their time on screen. When they are around, scenes get lifted ever so slightly from mediocrity.

The script is laced with interesting ideas that never get fully realized. If you have seen the 1990 original, then you know the ideas I am talking about, but for those who haven’t, the plot revolves around whether Colin Farrell’s character is in a fantasy or a true reality. To the filmmakers defense, towards the end of the film I did find myself more engaged to as of whether it was real or not, and I do respect the end result. But the road to get there is far too boring to justify battling your eye lids for an hour and a half just to get there.

One thing that the film does really well is action and special effects. The world these characters live in is gorgeously crafted with a mixture of practical effects and CGI. The action scenes dazzle for the same reason. I just wish there was a bit more weight to them.

Total Recall isn’t a total failure. More of a missed opportunity to retell an interesting tale with today’s technology. The only thing the filmmakers seems really interested in in the technology. The cast and the audience themselves deserve better. Grade: D+

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