I've tried to come up with some clever pun to start this review but the problem is there is nothing clever or new to take from the film because it shows us nothing new or clever. This was certainly a film I felt had no reason at all to be remade and after watching it I'm even more adamant that it needed remaking as it is such a poor attempt at remaking a film which is already pretty darn good. I actually left the film feeling frustrated and slightly exhausted as all I got from the film was mind numbing action and a deep complex story being glossed over. It really wasn't the film I was expecting, and not even a great cast could change that.
Part of the reason for that is because the cast really aren't that good. Farrell never really breaks from confused but hardened facial expressions, and his performance actually made me miss Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you look through this blog you will find a review I done for the original Total Recall a few months back, and I highlight that one of the only issues I have with the film is that Arnie can't act and the script gives him too many cheese-ball lines. Ironically enough these were the parts this version really missed. It took itself far too seriously and the times Farrell was given lines like the original he failed to deliver them like Arnie once did. I know the story is quite deep but the original managed to go deep into the philosophy of who the lead character really is at the same time as having humorous relief from a complex plot. This version seems to forget the depths it could go to within this story and instead gives us two hours of action that has very little to do with the actual plot. It actually becomes rather boring and repetitive after a while. The action scenes look smart don't get me wrong, and the CGI for the city is very well done, unfortunately however there is more thought put into this then there is the actual plot of the film.
I've swayed off from my original point, which was all about the actors, but other than a few moments from Beckinsale they really are nothing to talk about. They are a problem with the film but the bigger problem is the lame attempt Len Wiseman has had at making a film which should be philosophical and has actually turned out as pointless as Wiseman's Die Hard 4. I'm going to mention some problems compared to the original so if you haven't seen it you may want to stop reading. The original plays with your mind as well as Arnie's. You never know if he really is the super-agent he is being told he is, and it is constantly hinted at that he could still be sitting in the chair at Rekall. In this version we are told in the opening twenty minutes that he is a secret agent and that is that. What follows is chase sequences and we are basically given nothing to question into 'What Is Real? What Is Recall?' It has just taken away all the great elements of the original that have placed it into philosophical books to show examples of certain theorists.
I shouldn't really compare it in every aspect so I will try and look at it as a standalone film for a minute. Some of the action is well directed, and Wiseman's vision with these aspects is very good. However at times it does become slightly over the top and a little bit too much. A couple of the chase sequences are edge of your seat stuff, such as one in the midst of a 3D elevator system, and also the way gravity disappears when people take a commuter train through the centre of the Earth. These few bits are alright but they are over used and eventually the action becomes the same and what we seem to end up with is many ideas stolen from the likes of Bourne, Inception, Blade Runner, and Minority Report which does cloud over the few bits that could have been good.
The film is unfortunately laced with unintentional problems. At times people were laughing at moments that shouldn't have been funny, such as when Australia is classed as 'The Colony' (In this version Britain and Australia act as Earth and Mars) or when Barack Obama's head is seen on some money. There are also too many odd moments like when Farrell's character decides to play the piano and ironically enough that is where to find the clue. It all seemed to easily put together and lacklustre in order to lace the script with action sequences. If you are planning on seeing this film then I suggest the original, but if you are determined to see this one you might as well just watch the trailer as it tells you every plot twist the film holds in. If you still must see this film be prepared for corny dialogue, average acting, and cliched action sequences within a plot which has the ability to go to some fascinating depths.
Pros: A few action sequences, and perhaps Beckinsale.
Cons: Doesn't even scratch the surface on a much more superior original.
5 / 10
Top 10 of 2012 so far:
1. The Dark Knight Rises 10 / 10
2. The Hunger Games 8 / 10
3. Snow White And The Huntsman 8 / 10
4. Avengers Assemble 7.5 / 10
5. Ted 7.5 / 10
6. 21 Jump Street 7.5 / 10
7. The Expendables 2 7 / 10
8. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 7 / 10
9. The Grey 7 / 10
10. Prometheus 6.5 / 10