Can we for­get this?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film reviews -

It’s late in the 21st cen­tury. De­pressed by the dystopian cliches and quo­ta­tions that sur­round him – did those cops pay roy­al­ties to wear the of­fi­cial uni­form of the Im­pe­rial Stormtroop­ers? – fac­tory wonk Dou­glas Quaid (Colin Far­rell) em­barks on a re­make of Paul Ver­ho­even’s de­fi­antly trashy, none-more-1980s Sch­warzeneg­ger ve­hi­cle, with fee­ble re­sults. Philip K Dick fans hop­ing for a more ve­ra­cious adaptation of We Can Re­mem­ber It For You Whole­sale than the 1988 ver­sion had best be­ware: LenWise­man’s film is con­sid­er­ably less cere­bral than its pre­de­ces­sor. No. Re­ally.

The neat cen­tral con­cept – Or­di­nary Joe ponies up for the mem­o­ries of an in­ter­galac­tic su­per­spy only to dis­cover he is an in­ter­galac­tic su­per­spy – is quickly lost in a quag­mire of grey CGI back­drops and point­less ki­neti­cism; the re­cent Lon­don Olympics, all told, fea­tured less run­ning and more plot. As our hero legs it in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to his wife – Kate Beck­in­sale, haus­frau turned mur­der­ous ri­val su­per­spy – Jes­sica Biel pops up to breath­lessly ex­plain Colin’s role in re­li­able char­ac­ter ac­tor Bill Nighy’s re­bel­lion against re­li­able char­ac­ter ac­tor Bryan Cranston’s fascis­tic regime. The cast re­sume run­ning but can’t quite es­cape the per­func­tory plot­ting.

Say what you like about the Ver­ho­even flick: it at least had hu­mour. To­tal Re­call 2012, on the other hand, is wit­less in ev­ery sense of the word. Wise­man, the ar­chi­tect of the Euro­trash-tas­tic Un­der­world fran­chise, seems to have mo­men­tar­ily lost his pen­chant for camp. Bar­ring two yuk-yuk ref­er­ences to the Sch­warzeneg­ger film – three­breasted pros­ti­tute and fat, im­plau­si­ble lady – the new movie res­o­lutely re­fuses to turn its frown up­side down. Paul Cameron’s gloomy cin­e­matog­ra­phy con­firms the ill-con­ceived se­ri­ous­ness of the project, Harry Greg­son-Wil­liams’s score thinks its sound­track­ing real sci­ence fic­tion, and by the time you’ve left the cinema, Chris­tian Wag­ner’s am­ne­siac fast cuts make you be­lieve you’ve paid for the mem­o­ries of some­one who hasn’t watched the film yet.

Most mad­den­ing of all is the film’s waste of re­sources. Colin Far­rell is ill-served by crummy di­a­logue and head­less chicken ac­tion. And you know that a film is badly writ­ten when even the mighty Bryan Cranston can’t quite con­vince as the vil­lain­ous cor­po­rate over­lord.

We’re tempted to call it To­tal Re­tread but that would be in­ac­cu­rately flat­ter­ing. Can any­one for­get this for us whole­sale?

Di­rected by Len Wise­man Star­ring Colin Far­rell, Kate Beck­in­sale, Jes­sica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy

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