Saturday, 15 February 2020

Movie review: Total Recall, dir Len Wiseman (2012)

This movie has aged well, although the story is a bit formulaic. I liked how it echoed the excellent 2002 film ‘The Bourne Identity’ (which I saw at about the same time and which has been reviewed on the blog). That fine film, of course, spawned a whole franchise of spin-offs, and ‘Total Recall’ belongs in the same stable of action films that centre on an intelligence operative who has lost his memory (although, in both cases, he remembers how to kick and punch and shoot).

The links are extensive, and include a bank safety deposit box accessed using a number and biometrics and that contains cash and passports, an expensive apartment the hero resorts to once he has got his stash, and a chase scene.

Unique to ‘Total Recall’ is the brutalist architecture in the Colony where Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) lives before he finds out who he really is. The pursuit sequences really are tremendous, with perfect choreography. I especially liked the one that takes place in the United Federation of Britain in a series of transport shafts where lifts go up and down and sideways. This is nail-biting stuff, and is of a high calibre.

The negative comments the film has gotten on account of the characterisation I feel are unwarranted. I was engaged by the story, which is not in the least complex, and I felt that Quaid, who is not sophisticated and who draws on the trope of the good soldier, has an innate virtue that is hard to quibble with. His nemesis, Lori (Kate Beckinsale), and the woman he meets who is part of the resistance, Melina (Jessica Biel), help Quaid reveal his true character. This film is a lot of fun.

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