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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Total Recall | Colin Farell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Total Recall | Colin Farell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston | Review

You won’t visit Mars and the bitchy wife has a much bigger part in this reboot of the 1990 Total Recall film, based on the short story by Philip K. Dick – We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.

What we have here is a loose remake of a loose adaptation, so you’d better fasten your seat belt, especially when you hit the zero-gravity portion of the trip.

It’s the late 21st century, and Earth has become a giant wasteland, inhabitable in only two areas:  the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and New Asia which appears to be the continent of Australia, now known as the Colonies.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) works a factory job, lives with his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) and suffers from nightmares of pursuit and capture.  He feels pangs of “there must be something more than this” when he visits Rekall, a corporation that can implant artificial memories for its clients.

Events unravel and accelerate when the Rekall tech (John Cho) finds that Quaid’s memory has already been erased and a squad of police-robots known as synthetics burst into the room to capture him.  Quaid discovers that he possesses extraordinary powers of self-defense.  He runs home to discover a deadly faux-wife-spy waiting for him.

Now on the run, Quaid joins forces with rebel agent Melina (Jessica Biel) and tries to discover his true identity while combating UFB special forces led by Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).  Rebel leader Mathias (Bill Nighy) doesn’t get much screen time, just enough to let the viewer know the considerable scheme of things and how Quaid fits into the puzzle.  If that’s even his real name.

Is he an undercover government assassin with a mind full of dangerous secrets?  Is his dull life real or the exciting danger-filled version?  Is he a product of Rekall or just recovering from its effects?

You won’t escape a scene with drawn weapons and screams of “he’s lying!”  You won’t escape the three-breasted hooker, the only mutant to make it into this reboot (ODDly enough).  You will see Quaid (if that’s even his real name) escape again and again and again.  You will see way too much of his faux-wife Lori, whose ridiculous mane of hair detracts from the business at hand.

The sets will put you in mind of Blade Runner, and sfx are dazzlingly impressive, even as they become more and more common these days, perhaps prompting an ever fidgety audience to say, “What else ya got?” sooner rather than later.  Right now, they work.

Director Len Wiseman’s (Live Free or Die Hard) film zooms along at breakneck speed, with small pockets of exposition, so listen up if you want to keep it all straight.  His hybrid production is merely flavored by the 1990 film but not bound by it.

Colin Farrell brings an intensity to Quaid that keeps him tightly coiled.  Kate Beckinsale’s assassin would be much more believable if she had the warrior hair of co-star Jessica Biel, whose Melina is more lock and load than simply loads of locks.  Bryan Cranston has wicked fun with Cohaagen’s swagger and entitlement.

Total Recall is a stand alone wild ride full of futuristic eye candy like hover cars, multi-level cityscapes and phones that give new meaning to the term “hand-held.”

The recall may not be total, but sometimes it’s just familiar enough.

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