Total Recall

First filmed in 1990 as a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger block-buster, ‘Total Recall’ receives another re-interpretation.  Whether this causes joy is the question as some recent remakes have been fine whilst others have been woeful.  ‘Total Recall’ Mark 2 sits somewhere in between.  Neither fish nor fowl, it provides director Len Wiseman an excuse to spend oodles of cash.  Some has been spent on the script although when the bullets start flying thought and logic vanish.


Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a construction worker bored with his life.  Living in a future world divided between The Colony and the United Federation of Britain, he seeks escape.  Seeing an ad for Rekall – a device implanting artificial memories – he decides to purchase one.  Little does he know the chain reaction this causes.  With his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) resistance fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) and evil head of the UFB Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) having ulterior motives in his capture, Douglas’ life becomes a deadly game of survival.


Although full of amazing action and dazzling special-effects ‘Total Recall’ doesn’t have much going for it.  Much blame goes to a script discarding what made Phillip K. Dick’s original story captivating.  Whilst nuggets surface in the frenetic screenplay, as soon as it veers close to being engrossing yet another action sequence occurs.  Eventually this becomes very repetitive with no solid story base upon which to hang the mayhem.


The derivate nature extends to the characters as most have a familiar air.  Add a bit of Star Wars, Blade-runner and every sci-fi movie from the last twenty years and you receive the general idea.  Ironically these elements make ‘Total Recall’ a film without its own identity with its hero searching for his as the movie does the same.  The pacing also could have been much tighter with Wiseman’s direction seemingly more in awe of the world he created at the expense of strong characters.


Lacking much inventive flair despite the awesome pyrotechnics ‘Total Recall’ is a generally mindless affair.  Fans of the book and original movie should steer clear as this has nowhere near their girth of ideas with innovation and wonder lost amongst its many explosions.


Rating out of 10:  5


Hope Springs

‘Hope Springs’ proves how great actors enhance stories.  What on paper may sound ordinary is given life by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.  Both having a distinguished cinematic resume, their thespian pedigree is worthy of attention.  Their abilities enable for full immersion into their character’s plight as they attempt to move forward by discarding past regrets.


Kay Soames (Meryl Streep) and her husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are at a crossroads.  With their children gone the ‘empty-nest’ syndrome hits them hard.  Wanting to rejuvenate their faltering marriage, Kay suggests they see marriage counsellor Dr. Bernie Field (Steve Carell) despite Arnold’s reluctance.  With Field’s questions forcing them to examine their relationship, their lives take interesting turns making for a rocky path toward re-connecting.


Director David Frankel skilfully draws out the best from ‘Hope Springs’.  With fine performers and strong writing it would have been difficult not to.  From the first moments in this essay on a fading marriage, we see a couple in serious decline.  Kay’s determination to revive the fading passion against Arnold’s grumpy demeanour reveals much of their opposing views.  Despite this the remnants of what initially made them a couple spurs them on.  In lesser acting hands the characters could have been clichéd but Streep and Jones ensure they have genuine believability.


Their performances are matched by Carell who effectively under-plays his sympathetic role.  His contribution aids in having the sometimes awkward and frank views delivered with little fanfare.  This allows the humour to occur naturally from the drama.  None of the funnier moments feel forced which add to the film’s authentic atmosphere.


Fans of Streep and Jones should be pleased with ‘Hope Springs’.  Amusing and insightful it adds another gold mark amongst their catalogue of fine performances.


Rating out of 10:  8