Memories, good or bad, define us in many ways. They are subjective and changeable, but what if they were replaceable?
Such is the case in Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall,” a slightly altered remake of a 1990 film of the same name starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. So, there’s the previous standard for you. That’s where the bar is set.
The premise: It’s the future, the earth has been all but destroyed in one way or another and everyone left on the planet is living in the only two remaining habitable zones: Great Britain and “The Colony” (known as Australia to you and me).
The only way to travel between the two zones is through the center of the earth, a journey, which visually resembles “Body Wars” (theme park ride idea!?!), but they call it “the drop.”
The whole world is quite literally and politically divided, as an apparent group of rebels called “the resistance” allegedly stage terrorist attacks against the reigning regime and its leader Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).
In the midst of this political turmoil we find Doug (Colin Farrell) a ridiculously attractive lower-middle class factory worker with a ridiculously attractive wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsdale) living in “The Colony” and working in Great Britain.
Doug, can’t help but feel that something is missing. Some incredibly vivid dreams and lack of job satisfaction land him at Rekall, a facility that specializes in memories–creating and replacing them that is.
It’s here that Doug discovers he’s not who he thought he was, and neither is anyone else in his life. In an inexplicably slow-moving, rapid turn of events he finds himself fleeing his “wife” with the girl from his dreams (Jessica Biel)…literally speaking, and heading off in search of himself and Matthias (Bill Nighy), the phantom-like leader of the resistance movement.
What could be a rather interesting premise becomes an endless stream of action sequences. If this movie were a half hour shorter my opinion of it would be much greater.
As it is, there are some good performances and moments. Colin Farrell’s portrayal of a seriously confused man with some very literal identity issues is insane, in the most awesome sense. He, along with a touching performance by Ms. Biel and a brief but brilliant appearance by the awesome Bill Nighy make this movie watchable.
I also can’t neglect Bryan Cranston’s Cohaagen. As the evil politician out to use Doug (who is not actually Doug) as his own personal pawn, he is fantastic and believable until they pit him against Colin Farrell in a knife fight (once again…literally). He may be scrappy, but I have to believe that would be a very short fight.
Again, not a bad premise, not a bad cast, just way longer than it needed to be.