Total Recall Review: 5 Reasons Why Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel Disappoint

Total Recall, the upcoming science fiction thriller starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston, is Hollywood’s latest adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. And for the sake of our moviegoers, a short story is a bunch of words combined to make a tale and is normally published in a book, which is something you get when you combine a thirst for knowledge with indifference for nature. Now, after the obligatory insult hurled at people who don’t read, there are essentially five reasons why this movie will be absolutely awful, listed below for your viewing pleasure.

1) The cast is a smorgasbord of trash:

Total Recall offers a wide variety of people well acquainted with drivel. The lead, Collin Farrell, should be unforgettable for his overacting in Daredevil or his lack of acting in The Recruit, the latter of even Al Pacino couldn’t save. Also, don’t forget that Farrell was part of the ensemble that destroyed another Dick adaptation in Minority Report.

The supporting cast includes Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Alba, Bill Nighy, John Cho and Bryan Cranston. Beckinsale, “coincidentally” the director’s wife, has been the star of garbage such as Underworld and Click. Alba was the star of Sin City, where Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke made her performance look like something you see at the fourth grade talent show (the part where parents start to leave). Bill Nighy is known as Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, a movie a lot like the ride that inspired it: go to Kingda Ka instead. Cho, a.k.a. Harold from White Castle, takes away all seriousness from the movie, the way Kumar did with the atrocious take on an Indian’s American dream. Cranston is the villain, which can potentially be like Heath Ledger’s Joker but the promotional materials emphasize the three leads, implying that Cranston’s role is not as large, in which case the movie is genuinely doomed.

 


2) The production team is pathetic:

Of course, the cast of a film can be overlooked if the production team is amazing, such as Pixar’s name completely overshadowing the relative obscurity of the cast of Wall-E. In the case of Total Recall, however, the staff is universally untalented. Kurt Wimmer, who you may remember from drivel such as Salt, Ultraviolet, and the aforementioned The Recruit, writes the story, Mark Bomback of Race to Witch Mountain infamy co-writes while James Vanderbilt makes some contributions. Did you enjoy Vanderbilt’s previous works, The Rundown and The Amazing Spider-Man? No; no, you did not. Finally, the director is Len Wiseman, the man behind all four Underworld films, keeping his wife employed and cinema destroyed.


3) It is a remake of something awful:

Remember Total Recall, the 1990 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which changes a crucial element of Dick’s plot by actually sending the hero to Mars? Yes, that was the original and if the original was trash, the remake likely will be too. Be it Death at a Funeral, The Fog, The Longest Yard, Friday The 13th, Fun With Dick and Jane, or The Hitcher, a movie is only as bad as the remake that inspires it and the movie that inspires Total Recall is bad. Science fiction fares particularly badly in that regard, with films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Invasion and I Am Legend, all of which are an insult to the bargain bin.      


4) It is another unbelievable movie:

Forget having to not suspend your disbelief because Hollywood loves things that are impossible in our current world. Theaters are being bombarded with tales of science fiction like Prometheus and the upcoming Pacific Rim or superhero stories like Iron Man 3 and Ant Man. And while books have been doing it for a while, understand that books require nothing more than the imagination, something that can always convey realism better than a cheap Hollywood effect.

 

5) It is not Philip K. Dick

And, ultimately, none of the criticisms would have mattered if this tale was what Philip K. Dick originally wrote. The producer has stated that this version will be closer to the story than Schwarzenegger’s, but that simply cannot be the case. Dick’s tale was short and intentionally left a lot of things to the imagination; this is a feature-length film that will be forced to show us a lot more than the author ever intended. Then, as the trailers show, the movie is focusing heavily on the action; Dick’s stories were always about the emotional and political implications, keeping action to a minimum. Also, whereas Dick dealt with sociopolitical issues in a way that makes describes the mutability of human nature and forces us to change for the better, post-apocalyptic movies exploit worldly fears to sell tickets. The future is always bleak, the hope is always minimal and the world is always out to get the good guy. Dick did all this but showed a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel; Hollywood only shows another wall.

 

A lot of people may cite Blade Runner as proof that Hollywood can do justice to Philip K. Dick but that is a bad example. The movie may be The Godfather of science fiction on film, but Philip K. Dick is the godfather of science fiction, period. Blade Runner wasn’t as deep as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, despite being one of the best movies of its kind. Total Recall may yet do some thing surprising, such as giving the females substantive roles and bringing in feminism, the way Dick often did with his aforementioned works and explicitly in “Beyond the Door.” However, as it stands, the movie is hopeless. It takes a special kind of talent to show an unrealistic, distraught world and still provide believability and hope; Dick did so excellently; science fiction films generally can’t compete.  

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Abdul R. Siddiqui

Abdul is a graduate of CUNY Baruch, as part of the Macaulay Honors program. He has interned with the New York City Housing Authority, Macaulay, and PolicyMic. He currently contributes to PolicyMic, DramaFever, and NewLogical.

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