|'if you are going to make a straight-faced Action film, which wants so desperately to convince you of its seriousness, do not have your characters talk into their hands. That's just silly. Try it now. 'Hello hand'. Silly isn't it?'|
It is becoming increasingly clear that Total Recall director Len Wiseman's sole purpose in life is to produce films which enable wife Kate Beckinsale to squeeze into impossibly svelte outfits as often as possible. Even with that target in mind, Total Recall is a failure. I counted a grand total of one genuinely svelte outfit. One. Admittedly that is a total reached without including the obligatory undergarment shot but, really, any old director could produce that.
If Len's propensity for shooting Kate-in-leather isn't quite up to snuff then his ability to make an engaging and well-structured film also seems to still be missing, lost somewhere around the time of Underworld, his first film. Where there he benefited from a relatively meagre budget ($22 million, be still your beating hearts, first-time Indie film-makers of the world) now he has all the toys in the world with which to play and not an idea in his head of how to use them. Scene after scene of Total Recall goes by without dynamic action or beautiful scenery, the audience instead shown explosion after explosion, with little reason to care for who lies at the centre of the $1 million fireball. Hate Zack Snyder? I put it to you that you have never watched a Wiseman flick.
The endless scripting and directional clichés reach an infuriating head as protagonist Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) and partner Melina (Jessica Biel) arrive in a modern-looking, yet characterless, apartment. In the space of one scene and in one location the following lines rear their head from Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback's screenplay; 'I've done a lot of wrong in my time', 'you've got to be kidding me', 'this can't be happening', 'we shouldn't have come here'. Attacked moments later you have to wonder how the near-customary 'we need to leave... now' was presumably cut, yet all of the above remained in tact.
By this point we have already seen Lori (Beckinsale) change from goodie to baddie, during a genesis which includes that oh so revealing of switches, an accent change from American to British. One further nail in the coffin; if you are going to make a straight-faced Action film, which wants so desperately to convince you of its seriousness and social worth, do not have your characters talk into their hands. That's just silly. Try it now. 'Hello hand'. Silly isn't it? Total Recall thinks not.
The sole purpose then of Wiseman's film seems to be to remind you that you could be watching or playing something innately similar whilst having buckets more fun. There's lens flare here but hey, Star Trek has that. The plot is simple post-apocalyptic garbage, augmented by lots of expensive effects work, but that sort of simplicity worked fine in things like Mass Effect and Gears Of War. Total Recall advertises their merits well.
Wiseman is an ad-man after all then, not an auteur of Beckinsale body-cladding. At least, when he was the latter, his movies had some sex and sizzle. As the former, he makes soulless attempts at mega-bucks, with a director's eye about as developed as Bill Nighy and Bryan Cranston's roles are here. Didn't mention them, did I? The film doesn't bother either. Talent left on the floor, to the benefit of shallow CG eye-candy and meaningless scripting.