Recall` - decent re-imagination, but falls short (IANS Movie Review)
Before there ever was a Jason Bourne, or even a Neo ("Matrix"), there was the super-spy Douglas Quaid, who jumped out of paper, borrowed flesh and blood from a world champion body-builder in an attempt to figure out who he was.
His quaint search of his memory and purpose in life endeared him to the masses and ensured he stayed etched in their memory.
Now 22 years later, though a remake makes a decent attempt to replace old memory with new ones, it does not succeed as it could have.
After going to a travel company providing fake memory implant, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) realises he is more than a low-life factory worker. As he runs, surprised by his lovely wife Lori (Kate Bekinsale) trying to kill him, he encounters a girl he has literally been dreaming about, Melina (Jessica Biel).
Together they must find out what is there in his mind that has both the authorities and resistance fighters seeking him out.
To be fair, this 2012 reboot did not have to be loyal to the 1990 film, just like that film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn`t completely loyal to the Philip K. Dick story "We Can Remember For You Wholesale".
What both the films took from the short story, were its ideas on identity, totalitarianism and resistance. Yet, the 1990 version was more heartfelt as far as emotions go, and seemed much more `real` than this one despite its setting in Mars, mutants and alien technology.
The current version, as with most modern retelling of past films, sacrifices a good story and build up of emotion and suspense for a brilliant set design aided by corresponding camera work, spectacular visual effects and some great action sequences. In the older version, with air supply being turned off for `mutants` you felt the pain and agony of those not like you, unlike here, where the ending seemed a let down despite a decent build up.
The representation of the perspective of those not like us, was the greatest strength of the 1990 version.
Secondly, this version omits Mars and sets it entirely on earth with it being divided into two sections, the rich United Federation of Britain and the poorer colonies - Australia, where all the `workers` live in one large, endless ghetto travelling back and forth on `The Fall`.
However, the characters of this `ghetto` and their population were not built up well enough unlike the plight of the working mutants in the original. This was its major flaw.
Then, the 1990 version was much more subtle both in the story and in its message against totalitarianism. The freaks and mutants in it were a statement against the evils of everything nuclear considering that the affects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was well known by then.
The major problem with this version is that it becomes too literal, and though you have characters making statements against all the evils in the world, the `telling` of it instead of the `showing` of it by a better script, lets the film down.
Yet, lovers of sci-fi and action films will have a lot to cheer as the three lead stars pack quite an action-packed presence. The gadgets, including the interesting concept of a mobile phone implanted in the hand, will give you a lot to cheer about.
These elements make it a worthy watch despite the disappointments.
Total Recall is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he`s got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when he procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police – controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world – Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.