Recall, totally, or not?

Sandra wanted to see the movie. She is not a big Colin Farell fan, but she still wanted to see Len Wiseman’s remake of “Total Recall”. I was hesitating, but when she mentioned Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel also starring in this sci-fi-roller-coaster I agreed to join her at the Vienna premiere.

The first-ever “Schwarzenegger-Movie” that I experienced had been the 1990 Paul Verhoeven film-version of Philip K. Dick’s story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” – and it had been a positive surprise. This screening seemed to have happened just a few weeks ago, so this new versions felt a bit too early, too close, too near in time to the original, but Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel … ok, I can probably enjoy that.

Douglas Quaid, played by Farell, the now a bit more confused appearing hero/underdog/agent/laborer, does not travel to the Mars colonies for work, but to the dark side of the earth: Australia. To escape his boring life he is booking a virtual adventure at the travel-agency “Rekall” and as soon as this trip starts his life seems to fall apart. Like in the “original” it is never totally clear if all the following turmoil is actually happing in Quaid’s life or in his virtual memories, but somehow that still does not matter very much. The good rebels are fighting the evil colonial rulers and after an endless chase and 10000 explosions we see the good guy win and all bad people die – what a stunner.

Bryan Cranston, playing the villain Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen, always makes me think of him as the father in “Malcolm in the Middle” and I expect to hear something like “I am your father, Collin ….” and Bill Nighy is the disappointing leader of the rebels, who – unlike the powerful immortal vampire that he reminds me of – dies after a few seconds of unimpressive acting. Jessica Biel is not as cool and tough as her figure would require it, but that’s not a surprise as Len Wiseman is focusing more on his sweetheart Kate Beckinsale and once again revives the image of Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel in an updated 2.0 hardcore version. It had worked in “Underworld”, so why not do it here again? The combination of Biel and Cranson is merging my image of her father in “7th Heaven” – Stephen Collins – with a warped memory of Michael Douglas in “Falling Down” and the longer I am watching them the more I get as confused as Douglas Quaid. Biel is still the “gone wild” good girl and Kate Beckinsale is almost as mean, cold and invincible as the Terminator, the first one – so we easily come back to our Arnold again.

The whole movie is full of references and some of them are sweet: The “booby girl”, (a three-breasted prostitute) and the older lady at the checkpoint … but often I am not sure if I am still sitting in the same movie. The sound-track reminds me of Star-Trek, the set-design is appearing somewhere between I,Robot and Blade-Runner. Robocop and Star Wars contribute to the patchwork as much as Transformers and Underworld. Oh, yes, he does know how to create a detailed environment and then borrow it from himself.

It’s all much faster, more modern, bigger, better, harder, stronger than in the 1990’s version. It’s all a bit more artificial, but maybe that’s what we are dealing with these days. We are constantly surrounded by references and repetitions, remakes and citations, so why not in a movie remake? Is it a film that I would watch again? I guess I would, but not because it’s so good. Sandra said that she was not impressed and I don’t know what to say to her. It was really not necessary to make the film, but it works ok and I did enjoy watching Jessica and Kate despite their roles, but I won’t tell that Sandra.

Photos: © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
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