Total Recall Movie Review
That one good character is Doug, played with real depth by Farrell. After a chemical war has left just two inhabitable spots on earth (Britain and Australia), Doug is working as a robotics engineer and living a quiet life with his wife Lori (Beckinsale). But he keeps dreaming about running for his life with another woman (Biel), so he heads to a Rekall memory-implant centre to clear his mind. Of course he instead opens a can of worms, discovering that he's not who he thinks he is. But what's the truth? And who's side he really working for - the totalitarian chancellor (Cranston) or the violent rebel leader (Nighy)?
The design inspiration for this film is clearly Blade Runner, as the cityscapes are lit by grubby neon amid constant drizzly rain. There's also Minority Report-style cool-looking technology in every scene (you'll want one of these nifty phone implants, although upgrades look painful), while the vertiginous architecture and levitating cars owe a lot to Star Wars and The Fifth Element.
And the chancellor's robotic drone cops are straight from The Phantom Menace, complete with that film's central plot point. In other words, the style is cut and pasted from other movies, and without a stronger sense of the characters and story, there's not much else to see here.
As with his two Underworld movies as director (he only wrote and produced the other two), Wiseman struggles to maintain audience involvement with his characters, although movie geeks love the way they look. Especially gorgeously leggy women in tight-fitting outfits. But both Beckinsale and Biel have little to do but look feisty while shooting big guns and doing bendy stunts. And Cranston and Nighy are essentially reduced to cameos. Fortunately, Farrell is more than up to carrying the entire movie on his shoulders, and his internalised angst, combined with Doug's yearning for the truth, make the film just about watchable. But the source story offers so much more.