Whenever I hear Len Wiseman is directing the movie I scan the cast for Len’s wife, Kate Beckinsale, and there she is! They’re the Lucy and Desi of overstuffed action/adventure movies, and there’s so much stuffing in Total Recall you’ll need a stiff drink to wash it all down.
Wiseman, whose name implies more wisdom than any of his movies display, once again interrupts Bill Nighy from his steady diet of scenery-chewing to nosh on even more scenery, this time mostly on a giant sound stage in front of a big blue screen. This time, Nighy is joined by that fabulous small-screen actor Bryan Cranston who has never seen a one-dimensional cinematic villain’s role he didn’t like.
“Actually, it’s the one-dimensional pay-day I like,” said Cranston. “AMC’s Breaking Bad is also breaking my bank.”
This version of the tale dispenses with most of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest and most memorable quips, but it doesn’t skimp on Total Recall’s most important visual gag, the three-breasted hooker.
“More than three mouthfuls are wasted, I always say,” said star Colin Farrell.
“I spent hours getting those boobs just right,” said effects technician Chester D. Goodhooter. “I was determined that something in this movie would look and feel real.”
“You’re gonna wish you had three hands,” said the tri-breasted hooker.
“And you’re going to wish you had three different credits on your resume,” replied Farrell.
As before, Total Recall is based on a story by Philip K. Dick which was heavily dicked around with by Wiseman and his crew.
Kate’s job is to take the original Sharon Stone role and make it play well past its “best if used by” date.
“I give good wife,” says Kate, who also gives good riddance. With every confrontation between Kate and Colin, she spills the beans about who she is, who he is, why she’s there, and what the movie is supposed to be about. Why not just stop the scene altogether, Kate, and take questions from the audience?
Colin, it turns out, is “the greatest intelligence agent alive.” And before you stop laughing, consider that the only one of those words that is even remotely credible in this context is “the.”
“I’m assuming by ‘intelligence’ you mean ‘acrobatics,’” said Colin, who leaps from one blue-screen environment to the next, since this world seems to be one huge elevator. “If only I could leap onto a different theater screen,” he moaned.
In this world, technology allows a phone to be built into your hand, which lights up whenever you’re on a call.
“It’s super-convenient,” said Farrell, “although downloading apps can be quite painful. Once I was pleasuring myself and I accidentally dialed my agent – he screamed at me ‘that’s my job!’”
Enter Jessica Biel, whose high cheekbones were used to dangle various stuntmen during climactic scenes.
“I don’t know who I was, but I know who I am,” said Colin. “And like everyone who sees this movie, I prefer who I was.”
I prefer who I was before Total Recall, too.