2017 will see me watching some films that I have never seen before and then writing about them. It will be a series of columns cleverly called, “2017 First Watch.”
In an era where remakes, sequels, spinoffs, etc. are getting made all the time for less than artistic reasons, it was understandable that the overall mediorce and unnecessary remake of Total Recall was roundly dismissed and/or ignored by critics and audiences.
The odd thing is though that a large portion of the film is actually fun and worth watching.
The first ninety minutes or so make for a relatively tight chase film that provides plenty of high quality combat scenes and real sense of earned tension. Our main characters move so quickly and precisely all the time, but there is a genuine sense that they are always a step or two behind where they need to be. That contrast makes for a surprisingly exhilerating experience.
It was all the more impressive given the casting situation. Colin Farrell basically gets all of his charisma and charm sucked out of him whenever he is forced to adopt the American accent (which seemed especially unnecessary in a dystopic setting where most of the world lives in Europe), and it seemed like Hollywood had wisely decided to cancel all plans a decade ago to force him down the ¨action star¨ lane. Jessica Biel is another performer who has charisma and presence but has struggled to be showcased effectively.
The film largely eschews these issues entirely by having both hero leads remain quite silent throughout a lot of the film and instead relying on the great physicality that they are able to convey far more convincingly. Both of them carry their loads effectively and leave the charm to Kate Beckinsale.
The film does sadly fall apart in the final act though as it forces the villains to suddenly behave quite fucking stupidly to keep the story going while also attempting to raise the stakes of the film in a very forced manner. Until then though, this was all quite enjoyable.
Recommendation: You obviously do not need to watch this film, but you should not outright dismiss it if you enjoy action/chase films.