The Gustavian Weekly

The distant future: the year 2000 … or 2099, rather

By Aaron Albani Copy Editor | November 30, 2012 | variety

Total Recall, an action-adventure story taking place at the end of the 21st century, brings about memories of the first Bourne movies as a lost past plagues the protagonist. Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell, In Bruges, Alexander), an ordinary worker of The Colony, seems to have a questionable past he can’t quite recollect. He’s haunted by a recurring nightmare of his capture some years before.

After a foreshadowing examination with a government official at work, Doug Quaid nervously approaches Rekall, a medical program of sorts that is capable of implementing false memories into the brain. If you want to be a government spy, all you have to do is pay the man, and he’ll give you a life’s worth of memories for it.

Complications arise, however, when the government’s robotic police force arrive just before the operation takes place and Quaid, seemingly possessing already the skills of the world’s best spy, cleans out the room single-handedly.

Lori (Kate Beckinsale, Underworld, Van Helsing), his loving wife, sheds her American accent disguise and reveals herself as a spy sent to capture him and the pursuit ensues.

From there, it’s flying car chase after shootout after bit-by-bit explanation of the past, as Quaid learns his true identity thanks to Melina (Jessica Biel, The Illusionist), someone close to him in his past life.

As an action film, first and foremost, this film does rather well. Going into it with the right mindset is helpful, knowing you won’t get immense depth from the characters or an impeccable acting performance from the cast. I am partial, however, to futuristic films, and this particular setting was intriguing. With incredibly large cities having numerous levels going both upwards and down, Total Recall did not fail to let my imagination wonder.

Colin Farrell’s performance was enjoyable, even with the false American accent he fashioned (although his true Irish pride happened to slip through in a few “really”s).  Also coming to the screen in this production is Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) and Bill Nighy (Rango, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest).

The world in which Total Recall takes place is realistic enough for us to fathom in the coming decades. Perhaps we won’t have a public transport that travels from Australia to Great Britain by route of the Earth’s core, but intense urbanization isn’t out of the question in the next century. And cell phones implanted in the palm of your hand and hologram-holding pianos can’t be far out of reach, either.

Like I said, the film is enjoyable. Cinematically pleasing special effects that don’t always leap overboard are abundant here and it’s worth seeing purely for a glimpse into what our world just may look like one hundred years down the line. I assign three and a half stars out of five for this action-adventure film.