For a reported budget of $200 million, you'd think that if nothing else "Total Recall" would be visually dazzling. Sadly, Len Wiseman's futuristic universe lacks believable depth and texture, and the actors are stuck with a truly uninspired script. A zero-gravity sequence (borrowed from "Inception") is an exception to the otherwise incessant and forgettable action. The actors are not at fault for this noisy mess of a film. (Wiseman, Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston shared footage at Comic-Con.)
Beckinsale's confidence and ability as an action star makes husband-director Wiseman's shortcomings as a director all the more apparent. Beckinsale is second to only Angelina Jolie in the sexily fierce action star category, and without her, Wiseman's "Underworld" series wouldn't be so successful. With "Total Recall," Wiseman leans on both his cast and the branding of Paul Verhoeven's original film to sustain our interest for 118 minutes. This is yet another example of pandering and forgettable summer action confection instead of a fresh take on a compelling concept (from Philip K. Dick).
The other films opening this weekend are listed below, along with a review roundup for "Total Recall," currently at 21% Rotten. "Celeste and Jesse Forever" highlights Rashida Jones' acting and writing talents, while Fernando Meirelles' "360" disappoints and "The Babymakers" exhibits a sad low for Paul Schneider, who was so promising in Jane Campion's "Bright Star."
"360" Magnolia, UK | DIR: Fernando Meirelles CAST: Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster | 33% Rotten | Matt Mueller: "Banal, blundering and at times downright ludicrous, 360 is a full-circle misfire that Meirelles' lively images can't salvage."
"Celeste and Jesse Forever" SPC, US | DIR: Lee Toland Krieger CAST: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Ari Graynor, Chris Messina, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts | 80% Fresh | Christy Lemire: "'Celeste and Jesse Forever' is by no means a parody of romantic comedy cliches, but rather an acknowledgement of them en route to an exploration of greater emotional truths."
"The Babymakers" Millenium, US | DIR: Jay Chandrasekhar CAST: Paul Schneider, Olivia Munn, Kevin Heffernan, Wood Harris, Nat Faxon | Emanuel Levy: "Poorly conceived and executed, the film wastes the talents of Paul Schneider in a series of silly and embarrassing situations."
"Total Recall" reviews and trailers below:
Roger Moore: "Despite all the effects, the action and the showcase performance created for his wife, Kate Beckinsale, director Len Wiseman never lets us forget that he's no Paul Verhoeven."
Mike Scott: "Instead of a thinking man's film, we get a glorified and soulless chase film, one girded not so much by deep thoughts or clever plotting but by visual razzle-dazzle."
Kate Erbland: "Despite drawing from the genius of visionary author Philip K. Dick and the fun of Paul Verhoeven's original Total Recall, director Len Wiseman's remake is both slicked-up and dumbed-down…It's really a take on Verhoeven's take of Dick's story, which makes it a spin-off twice-removed,..Packed with an attractive cast and lots of big action scenes, the film is totally suitable as a summer blockbuster, but it's also totally forgettable."
David Poland: "Do Jessica Biel’s lips look like pillows of lust? Yes. Does Beckinsale look sharply stunning with repeated ass shots to remind us that she has a great ass? Yes. Colin Farrell’s never been more pretty. And if that’s what you want, buy a fucking magazine…This is not the worst film you’ll see this year. It’s not even the most disappointing film of the summer. But it sucks pretty bad."
Alison Willmore: "As that wife, Beckinsale's entertainingly indestructible and glowery, striding like a Terminator with an immaculate blowout down countless hallways while wielding a gun, and chasing Quaid over rooftops and along balconies after her cover as an enemy agent is blown ('I give good wife,' she sneers). Farrell and Biel are perfectly serviceable in uninspiring roles, while Cranston tries gamely to look like he could be the equal of Farrell in a brawl and Bill Nighy appears briefly as rebellion leader Matthias."
Drew McWeeny: "Technically, the new 'Total Recall' is handsomely made, and the cast does exactly what they were hired to do. I think Wiseman's gotten better and better at staging large scale high velocity action of a certain type, and younger audiences who go simply for an action film, who have no real expectations based on the older film, are probably going to walk away happiest."
John Semley: "It's a redressing of Verhoeven's movie, in sanitized, soulless textiles spun from the sort of endless CGI spool a $200 million budget can provide…It's not just a matter of a misguided conception either. Total Recall's a trifling mess, as superfluous as a third breast. Farrell's a proficient talent. But he plays it too doe-eyed and disordered, never really sinking into the action-hero material."