Watched Aug 05, 2012
Total Recall is pure summer movie fluff. It has a large cast of known actors, relentless action, and thread-bare plotting. And you know what? I had a really good time at the theater with this one.
Lets start with the bad. Every character here is motivated by the most minute plot devices around, and they are only mentioned in passing so as to give the characters reason to go from one set piece to the next. This is too bad given that it seems like Farrell is trying to do more and bring something to the role. There is just literally nothing for him to do other than shoot people. I have no history with nor have I ever seen the 1990 Total Recall, but I can't imagine that movie having less of a narrative, even with Schwarzenegger in the lead role.
What does work for me here is the set design itself. While not wholly original (there is definitely a lot of Blade Runner and Minority Report influences present), the sets themselves are imaginative, fluid, and well conceived and crafted. In addition, none of the performances are as bad you'd think they would be. Jessica Biel in particular was a pleasant surprise, although that could possibly be attributed to her having nothing really to do except run and shoot people.
The action is as non-stop as you'd expect it to be and pretty entertaining for the most part, although a few of the scenes are too shaky and jump-cutty for their own good, although I should note that style is just not my favorite style of action filming.
I cannot stress enough how much of a mess this movie is narratively, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it for what it is. Not all sci-fi action movies have to be Aliens or The Road Warrior. Sometimes its okay to sit back and enjoy a mindless, turn off your brain summer movie like Total Recall.