By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Review: Total Recall (2012)
As I suffered through Len Wiseman’s latest film, I thought, “This guy isn’t a director, he’s a decorator.”
I didn’t realize that he was, indeed, an art department guy for Roland Emmerich.
Wiseman has one skill and one skill only as a film director. He creates eye candy. But his visuals have all the depth of a breast implant.
The man can’t keep visual track of the action in an elevator. Literally. In this movie, there is a 4 person fight sequence in an elevator and you never know where anyone out of frame at any moment is or what they are doing. This is in spite of big martial arts moves and guns going off. It’s like Police Squad, with the shoot out between people who turn out to be 3 feet away from one another when you see a wide shot.
I’m going to keep this brief, as when I pointed out Wiseman’s directorial incompetence on Live Free Or Die Hard, a mutual friend of mine and his asked me what he had done to me to generate such venom. The answer then, as it is now, is, “Nothing but make that movie.”
The central notion of the film – is Quaid really a spy or is it all a Rekall implanted dream – is answered in the opening sequence… removing any tension or interest in that theme. So the film, by the second act, is reduced to a fairly boring, uninventive chase film. The film is enveloped with a conceit about a world reduced to two countries (not a spoiler… in the opening credits) with the rich and powerful on one side and the rest on the other. But any nod to revolution is as shallow as a toddler pool. This movie, unlike the original bit of psychotic genius by Verhoeven, takes itself insanely seriously, which sucks nearly every ounce of fun out of the thing.
And personally, I was insulted by the 3-breasted woman, whose appearance is just pandering to the memory of a filmmaker who does interesting things.
The third act of the film is an unmitigated disaster. An embarrassment. It is empty, illogical, and worst of all, boring.
Do Jessica Biel’s lips look like pillows of lust? Yes. Does Beckinsale look sharply stunning with repeated ass shots to remind us that she has a great ass? Yes. Colin Farrell’s never been more pretty. And if that’s what you want, buy a fucking magazine.
I was just saying to someone this week, there are directors who have enough of something to make me stay interested, even if I don’t like their early films. Wiseman does good trailer bait. But his sense of story is one step shy of McG-level ADD. And his compositions with the actors’ eyes in focus are like those of a six-year-old with an iPhone. There is not a single visual idea or image here, aside from cool wireless phones, that isn’t a weak reflection of things we have seen in the past done 100x better.
This is not the worst film you’ll see this year. It’s not even the most disappointing film of the summer. But it sucks pretty bad. There are a LOT of other films with better boom-boom if that’s all you’re after.
Now excuse me while I watch the Verhoeven to try to get the flavor of rancid mush out of my brain.