After watching "Total Recall", I'm hoping that this year will mark the end of the over-serious action films that have become the craze in Hollywood. Don't get me wrong, I like more serious action films over camp but the problem is that a lot of these films need an extra jolt of life, be it humor or outright camp, to make the lackluster stories bearable. While "Recall" was pretty great to look at and could have been amazing visually had they planned it out for 3D, the film was just a lifeless bore because the characters were nothing more than archetypes and had no real humanity to them. The conflict is never really personalized; it plays like Bourne Identity but with Famke Potente's character knowing what's going on while the "What is real?" question is just kind of accepted in "Recall" because Colin Farrell's character has to focus on a bigger mission. The lack of the Real or Recall element was especially surprising for me because, if you're going to make it more serious, you have to add some personal character element to make up for the lack of an outlandish Verhoeven touch of the original. (Note: And I wasn't comparing this to the original as I've never actually seen the original "Total Recall".) "Total Recall" is the kind of film in which you root for the main guy... because he's the main guy and apparently he's doing something right.
Equally lifeless were the chase scene and I've noticed this happening more and more in modern films. So much focus is put on the visuals that the purpose or story of the chase is overlooked. Instead of clever games of cat and mouse, chase scenes today are more like a dog chasing its tail - a lot of energy that eventually comes to the inevitable ending. "Total Recall" might be the worst offender of this. While, again, the chases are visually cool, there's nothing to them beyond that. In fact, each chase ends (or includes) the exact same moment - Kate Beckinsale coming up empty, saying an exasperated "Shit!", and then staring out ominously at Colin Farrell. Kate Beckinsale actually is pretty great in the film but most of that has to do with the fact that she's absolutely stunning. Her role isn't just one dimensional, it's really just one moment repeated over and over. Take away her looks and Beckinsale's role was like if the boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark kept popping up in every other scene, trying to smash Indiana Jones.
I should have known this was going to be what it was because Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel are pretty safe bets to be in bad movies and Kurt Wimmer, while he may be a highly regarded screenwriter, seems to end up with his name on a lot of shit. I don't know if his stuff gets rewritten or what but with a list of: Salt, Law Abiding Citizen, Ultraviolet, The Recruit, and Sphere on his IMDB page, his name has unfortunately become a red flag.
While the film didn't annoy me as much as The Dark Knight Rises or Prometheus did, at least those were annoying because they overreached. "Total Recall" didn't even seem to be trying that hard. With so many intriguing options like Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of a Southern Wild, The Imposter, Queen of Versailles, etc. out right now, there's no reason to waste time on "Total Recall". Or you could just watch the films that it poorly apes: the original Total Recall, The Bourne Identity, or Minority Report.