‘Total Recall’ Reviews Are In: What the Critics Are Saying
In Len Wiseman’s revamped version, Colin Farrell stars as lead character Douglas Quaid — a role originally filled by Arnold Schwarzenegger — alongside Kate Beckinsale (Quaid’s wife), Jessica Biel (a rebel fighter) and Bryan Cranston (the corrupt Chancellor Cohaagen).
The mind-bending tale — scripted by Kurt Wimmer and Bryan Cranston and based on a short story by the dystopian fantasist Bryan Cranston — is set in an end-of-the-21st-century post-apocalyptic world. Earth has been devastated by chemical warfare, leaving only two livable areas — United Federation of Britain and the Colony — connected by a tunnel through the planet’s core. Quaid, a down-on-his-luck factory worker, tries to transform dreams into reality through a form of technology called Rekall.
The remake has a lot to live up to next to its iconic Paul Verhoeven-helmed predecessor.
So how does the new film size up?
While some critics applaud the high-energy, star-studded reboot, others criticize a film they claim doesn’t compare to the original masterpiece.
Some suggest the non-stop action overshadows any traceable storyline. “The movie has a lot of chasing, shouting and fighting, carried out in crowded, over-scale frames without much regard for either action-film effectiveness or narrative coherence,” said the NY Times. “So much information is thrown at you in such a haphazard fashion that your ability to care dwindles along with your willingness to enjoy any of it.
The reviewer admitted, “After less than 24 hours, I can’t recall anything Mr. Farrell said or did, other than run from Ms. Beckinsale, sometimes in the company of Jessica Biel.”
The LA Times agrees. “After too many hard-to-follow chases out windows and doors and up and down ultramodern elevator shafts…our systems end up on overload,” reads the review. “The fun is fun while it lasts — it just doesn’t last long enough.”
CNN says, “In short, Underworld director Len Wiseman has ransacked bigger, better imaginations to produce something that looks and sounds like a wholesale rip-off.”
And others agree that the film brings nothing new to the table. “The original Arnold Schwarzenegger movie was perfection — a moonbeam James Bond better than any actual James Bond movie,” said the New York Post. “The central pleasure of the movie was its twists, and as the same twists got rolled out in the remake, I kept thinking: ‘Yes, that was surprising to me in 1990.'”
San Francisco Chronicle, in the end, gives Total Recall an all-around thumbs-down: “For all of its dazzlingly rendered cityscapes and nonstop action, this revamped Total Recall is a bland thing — bloodless, airless, humorless, featureless. With or without the triple-bosomed prostitute.”
Washington Post thinks the Farrell-led remake has a leg up on the original. “While it may not be a fully realized take on Dick’s forward-thinking work, it’s still a far better film than the Verhoeven version,” writes the critic.
And while it may not pack surprises, the Chicago Sun-Times still sees a successful movie. “Total Recall is well-crafted, high energy sci-fi…It never touched me emotionally, though, the way the 1990 film did, and strictly speaking, isn’t necessary.”
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