Total Recall

A preposterous film that works if you can morph into a 21-year old boy while sitting in the theater.

Total RecallThe good news is that Monica and I had one of our former foreign exchange students, Z, visit us last weekend with his father as he flew in from Saudi Arabia. He will be 21 next month and ready to start his third year at Chapman University in California. He and his father are both tremendous people, and it was a treat seeing them again.

The downside is that he is an avid movie fan, and was seeking to catch-up after spending the past several months in his home country where there are no movie theaters. Tragically, a 21-year old boy from any country is still a 21-year old boy, and he had his sights set on a number of films that I was trying to politely avoid seeing. One of them was Total Recall, a film starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale. Quite frankly, it reminded me of why torture is still acceptably used in some countries of this confused world.

While the special effects are all first class, what seems like an interesting plot slowly sinks in cinematic quicksand. Let’s just say that at the end of the 21st century, the world is falling apart from previous chemical wars, and Colin Farrell is either a government agent or a member of the resistance, something that he can’t quite grasp, and the viewer is left trying to figure out why on earth you would care.

I truly love Mr. Farrell as an actor, and it is worth remembering a few of his contributions to the screen. His performances in both In Bruges (2008) and Crazy Heart (2009) simply should not be missed, and his diabolical performances in both The Way Back (2010) and Horrible Bosses (2011) were a complete delight.

Here, he keeps punching away at this massively confusing story while trying to figure out why his ex-wife, played by Kate Beckinsale, now wants to kill him while he realizes that he is in love with Jessica Biel, a resistance fighter. Let’s just say that Ms. Beckinsale is an incredibly pissed off woman, and she has but one intense goal, namely the death of Farrell.

Again, the special effects are what saves the film, although it becomes rather ludicrous to watch Farrell, Biel and Beckinsale leaping from one high moving machine to another as they continually land without suffering any meaningful injuries in the process. Though clearly not intended, it becomes ludicrously absurd.

Both Ms. Biel and Ms. Beckinsale look strikingly attractive as usual, although I must say that Z liked the scenes best where they were trying viciously to beat each other up. As that was going on, I told him that he should think about dating one of them when he got back to California, though not at the same time. He responded cryptically, “No, Bob, dating them together would be perfect!” Ah, to be 21 again.