When I inevitably become emperor of the world within a few years there will be a strict code that I’ll have carved into the Washington Monument (which at that point will be re-dubbed the Christopher Nolan Monument) whose aim will be to make the world a better place. And right at the apex of said obelisk, just above the “Thou Shalt Not Pretend That Apple Products Are Better Than Others Just Because They’re More Expensive” will be the number one rule for my new, hopefully-not-dystopian empire: “Thou Shalt Not Remake Films Under 30 Years Old” and more importantly ones that nobody fucking wants.
It was bad enough sitting through two hours of Andrew Garfield bitching and whining through The Amazing Spider-Man movie when the 2002 Sam Raimi version remains the standard by which all Spider-Man movies shall be judged and is younger than some of the socks in my drawer. Seriously, anyone who actually thinks that Garfield is a better Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire shall be banished from Brentopia Dark Knight Rises style and anyone who thinks that the “new” Uncle Ben’s death scene is more gripping and meaningful than the original, you know, where it was actually sort of Peter’s fault, can go strap on a pair of concrete boots, jump into the Potomac River and remove yourself from the Brentopian gene pool.
Alright, alright, I’m better now. So, on to Total Recall, a film that Hollywood waited a whole 20 years to remake and has absolutely no reason to exist. It’s a remake of the 1990 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and stars Colin Farrell, most likely because Farrell’s uncanny resemblance to a half-eaten chicken wing was matched closely enough with the Terminator’s physique to impress the producers, who I’m assuming had just gotten home from a party with the same judges who scored the Pacquiao-Bradley fight.
Colin Farrell is a laborer in a future overruled by two warring nations who travel back and forth using a magical elevator that goes through the Earth’s core because fuck logic, that’s why. Farrell however is bored with his awesome future life and insanely hot wife and decides to visit a company counter-intuitively called “Rekall” where he can have false memories implanted by that Asian guy who’s in tons of movies nowadays. From there the plot becomes a confusing mess that bears the stench of “we were just making stuff up as we went along.” Characters pop up out of nowhere and are killed just as quickly, plot holes are about as common as Colin Farrell doing that thing where he whimpers and stutters, and the action is so CGI-heavy that it has about the same effect as watching the cut scenes from Call of Duty.
Total Recall deviates so much from the original’s premise that I’m honestly not quite sure why they felt to even produce it as a “remake.” Oh, that’s right, because the American public doesn’t care about original properties and typically the few movies each year that do try to bring something else to the table end up at the bottom of the box office heap begging for scraps while this year’s edition of Transformers and Harry Potter eat up all the profits. That’s right, this is your fault, America!
While sitting through Total Recall I found it very difficult to find anything at all to like about it with the exception of Bryan Cranston playing the same character he’s ever played ever. Colin Farrell plays everything too straight to even have the goofy appeal of Ahnold’s original version of Quaid and the two female femme fatales are basically just copy-pasted from every action movie ever made, making them about as interesting to watch as an episode of Antiques Roadshow you’ve already seen several times.
And then there’s the plot upon which I’ve already briefly touched. In one of my more recent reviews I complained about The Dark Knight Rises‘s plot being too muddled and complex to really be entertaining but now I’m happy to report that Total Recall‘s excuse for a story makes that one feel as simple as the latest plot from Blue’s Clues. I’ve already sat through it and I’m still not sure what the hell I was watching. Something about Bryan Cranston wanting to unite the two empires under one and Davy Jones being all “fuck that!” and Colin Farrell being a former agent of Cranston who then had his memories replaced and a code embedded that would lead to Davy Jones and ahhhhhhh…..
Seriously, I’ll probably take a lot of flack for not understanding the plot but it’s not so much that I don’t get it, it’s just that it’s about as pointless as Stevie Wonder’s reading glasses and doesn’t have the high stakes of the original. The general population is never in any real danger and Cranston isn’t planning on suffocating Mars like in the original. In fact, like any sort of charm the ’92 version possessed, Mars is suspiciously absent from the plot of this iteration entirely, thus only pounding the fact that this could have been its own property with a few little alterations. The whole idea that the film “may or may not be a dream” isn’t nearly as relevant as it was in the original and is thus rendered pointless, especially since the ending is practically identical.
I have the feeling that the creators of this version of Total Recall were relying on the modern teenage public knowing nothing about the original, which I guess is somewhat easier to believe than that they actually thought people would want a new version. It’s overlong, it’s confusing, the special effects are run-of-the-mill and it’s very badly written with only minimal callbacks to its source material. But I guess since its release immediately precedes the new Bourne movie, it’s probably safe to assume that Hollywood’s just trying to stuff in its Shit No One Wants movies to meet the summer quota.