Monday, August 27, 2012

A Review: Total Recall

"Look at you. . . You're still fighting and you don't even know who you are!"

In this future, at the ass-end of the 21st century, robotic police officers that resemble Slim-Fast versions of Storm Troopers mixed with legitimate human cops patrol the streets. Cars can sorta fly. Almost everything electronic is now glass touch screen. Young adults are still punks. Cell phones can be secretly implanted (and painfully extracted) in your hand.

And an elevator (with small scientific theory and history behind it) cuts through the earth, zips around the core to the other side. It heads to either (you guessed it) Great Britain, 1 of 2 remaining habitable parts of earth along with the other: Australia a.k.a The Colony.

The Colony resembles a slum of Asian-likeness. I found out later that was little bit on purpose and not me simply drawing semi-racist juxtapositions in my so-called-mind. Living space is shrinking in the two land masses. Things are getting tight, literally and figuratively for people. The colony is a crapland of slum and "United Federation of Britain" is a great place to live and work. But not for the blue collars and foreigners apparently. Okay.

Honestly (I'm prepared for the onslaught), makes more sense the the good ol US of A is not still standing after a third world war. How many movies in a row are we the last country left? Was glad to see a switch up. And it makes even more sense Britain still retains it's sense of stereotypical elitist nature even more. Has it ever conceded that?

Oh yes, and one more little tid-bit I liked about the future: Barack Obama's face is on $50 bills. No, you read that right. Len Wiseman thought (along with his father on another domination) it'd be "perfect." Ironic Obama's face is literally connected to money in the future, since his legacy will undoubtedly go down as the President who did dick for the worst American economy in history.

Colin Farrell steps into the big Austrian shoes of Schwarzenegger as Doug Quaid, robot technician for an assembly line of the cops I talked about. He goes a "shit bar, drinks shit beer" and leads, as we come to understand, an uneventful life. Looks like Kate Beckinstale as a wife isn't enough. Gotcha. He has the same nightmare of himself running from the robos and cops, but not alone. Jessica Biel's Melina is with him and together they almost escape, he helps her do so before being caught and waking each time from the nightmare.

It makes no sense to him, or us for that matter. And only fuels the guessing game later in the movie.

Eventually, after being told by his buddy (Woodbine) to stay away from recall, and get his mind right naturally, he cracks and goes anyway. After sitting down in the chair, before the needle can feed him the chemicals required to induce Rekall, his brain-scan denotes hidden memories and we get police SWAT busting through the door.

Turns out he's a secret agent with serious ties to the United Federation of Britain. After Doug instinctively through muscle memory takes the police holding him at gun-point in a "how am I doing this sequence" (that was frankly more convincing in the first Bourne with the park bench), he flees. And then the movie's on it's own with Farrell in the driver's seat.

Once home, he attempts to explain this to his American wife, Lori (Beckinsale), she doesn't take kindly to the news, goes British and attempts taking him out. "What can I say? I give good wife." I liked that. She gave it a good ring of charisma and moxie. And please make no mistake, Beckinsale is usually a hero, but this movie turns her into Bitch #1 (a career first she claimed to really enjoy). I ended up hating her Goddamn guts by her last scene. She was a bad penny, turning up just when you thought you were rid of her. She makes the most of her one-note Lori with devilish relish. She was good at being bad (Cliche'?) and a fucking pain in the ass in best way for a villain.

Quaid reluctantly teams up with Melina, recognizing her from his dreams and finding out he might be a resistance fighter. I'll leave the plot there. I'll say this though, if this movie is where $125 million dollars gets us, than I'd like to see where the budget went besides the (only at times) seamless CGI and the amazing set designs. Oh is that it? Is that what gets our attention for interesting sci-fi? Of course it does. I had a blast zipping through the streets on hardlined cars that hover on tracks and robot-cops that seem to never stop coming (I won't say it). And won't compare it unfavorably to Minority Report either. It didn't quite get around to the interesting character territories and wonderment we got from that Philip K. Dick adaptation. 

But then again, I'm not comparing Wiseman to Spielberg, well, I sorta just did I supposeWiseman had me hook-line-sinker with his installment of Die Hard, and i was glad to see him attached to this one. He's a competent action director in the 21st century who delivers solid, thrills-a-minute scenes. Hitting the ground running and stopping for nothing. 

That was a small problem I had. We never really get in the mind (shitty self-referencing pun intended) of any of the characters. But alas, Wiseman isn't known for directing anything with copious amounts of expositional dialogue and huge character development. And that's fine here, because he focuses all his time and energy on a cohesive story that eventually had me guessing what was real, dream, fake, memory. 

Right up until literally the last shots before the credits. I never knew when and if we would "wake-up." If ever. In the whirlwind of where to turn, who to trust, what's real, fake, fucked and flimsy in The Colony and UFB, Doug is surely on the trip of his life every frame of the film. Wiseman crafts the plot of it well and doesn't break and gives us short-comings. 

Munki out. 

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