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Total Recall: Director's Cut [Blu-Ray]

Len Wiseman

Total Recall: Director's Cut [Blu-Ray]
4
To the surprise of no one, Len Wiseman's interpretation of Philip K. Dick's We Can Remember It For You Wholesale chips away the knowing winks and layered ambiguities of Paul Verhoeven's ultra-violent 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle with superficial alterations. Total Recall version 2.0 is different for the sake of being so and this unrated director's cut doesn't reveal any particularly significant buried intentions. Here, the conversations and chase scenes are lengthened, the romance is a bit steamier, the exact details of one minor plan are obscured and the alternate ending musters an undercooked "what if?" Unfortunately, these aren't the most profound additions to a film that could use extra weight instead of just more length. With Wiseman's assured visual stylization — sleek, compact, stacked architecture and flashy, elastic cinematography — and a pair of strong leads (Colin Ferrell and Kate Beckinsale), the film begins promisingly enough, but grows increasingly tedious as the director mistakes physical momentum for narrative momentum. With so much time taken up by elaborately choreographed, and initially rather exhilarating, chase scenes, character development and plot coherence are left by the wayside. Douglas Quaid (Ferrell) is still a buff, working-class man who goes to Rekall (a memory implant vacation agency), in order to satisfy the itch of a recurring dream. He still enters into a situation much like the fantasy he's just signed up for, but aside from there being little question of whether or not Quaid's secret life as a super-spy is anything other than reality, the setting is the most significant point of distinction in this inferior iteration. The action takes place entirely in Australia and the UK, not that any tell tale accents betray the geography. In a future ravaged by industrial pollution, these are the only habitable zones, connected by a giant elevator that shoots through the core of the planet. Guess who commutes where? Acknowledging, but ice-skating over, the obvious colonial exploitation angle, the political subplot is just a flimsy MacGuffin. This is clearly an action movie first and foremost — any higher aspirations feel forced and perfunctory. Spread between two Blu-Rays and a DVD are a fairly lacklustre batch of special features. "Insight Mode" runs through the movie with pop-up factoids and behind-the-scenes features — don't worry, there's an entire section dedicated to the tri-boob prosthetic. The highlight of a gag reel set to '70s soul funk is the repeated throat punching of Collin Ferrell by an overzealous Kate Beckinsale. "Science Fiction vs. Science Fact" goes through the film's technology, piece by piece, tossing around post-human idealism willy-nilly and there's a very cursory look at the design of the physically implausible, Gaia-reaming metaphor that is the giant planet elevator, dubbed "the Fall." Despite Wiseman's patronizing tutelage — "We rotated the camera, not the whole set" — it's a good thing there's a director's commentary for the extended cut; his 20 minutes of additions and minute changes are hardly noticeable otherwise. Inexplicably, there's also an entire extra disc dedicated to a God of War videogame demo. (Sony)
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