TOTAL RECALL (2012) Director: Len Wiseman Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsdale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston Rating: PG-13 for the same type of gunfights, hand to hand combat, and other violence filmed in ultra slow motion we’ve seen in every modern action flick. Thank you, Matrix movies!
The 1990 film Total Recall featured a top of his game Arnold Shwarzeneggar as a man who doesn’t know who he is battling with evil mutants and assorted villains over the fate of the planet Mars. A true classic in the science fiction action genre, Total Recall had plenty of bloody action and violence, a fast moving and twisty “who am I” sci-fi plot, and a mutant hooker with three boobs:
The 2012 remake of Total Recall also has a mutant hooker with three boobs and a twisty “who am I” plotline, but instead of the Governator kicking bad guy keisters on Mars we get Colin Farrell fighting the chick from Underworld and the guy from Breaking Bad for the survival of a futuristic Australia that isn’t overrun with post apocalyptic leather clad bikers for a change.
So for the remake they changed the plot, but kept the boobs. I admire that in a movie.
Some time in the future, Earth’s population has been nearly wiped out by some kind of chemical war leaving the former Great Britain (now known as the UFB) and Australia the only places still habitable. The “Colony” as Australia is now called, is dirty, overcrowded, and looks like it was built by the same guys who did the sets for Blade Runner. An underground elevator known as “The Fall” whisks commuters in massive subway cars from The Colony to the UFB in 17 minutes, pausing for a brief gravity shift at the earth’s core where everything floats because it’s important to the plot later in the movie.
Bored factory worker Quaid (Farrell) is having trouble sleeping because he has dreams of a hot girl who isn’t his hot wife Lori. Lori is played by Kate Beckinsdale, who is married to director Len Wiseman and is therefore bound by Hollywood marriage laws to appear in every movie her husband makes.
Looking for a way to break the monotony of his humdrum futuristic routine, Quaid visits Rekall – a high tech company which implants memories into your brain so you can experience all the fun and excitement of a vacation without having to wait two hours on line at Space Mountain.
Unfortunately, the memory implant procedure thing goes to crap and Quaid kills a bunch of armor clad troops with the skill of ten Jason Bournes and at least two Jason Stathams. Now he’s on the run with a bunch of questions running through his brainwashed head: Why do the UFB cops want him? Why do people think he’s a secret agent? And how come his loving wife has turned into a psycho killing machine who wants to serve Quaid some 45 caliber divorce papers?
Total Recall shifts into one continuous chase scene as Quaid teams up with Melina (Jessica Biel) the hot girl from his dreams who fights for a resistance group trying to free The Colony from the cruel UFB Chancellor Cohaagan (Bryan Cranston) who wants to clean out Australia and replace everyone with robots who work for free and don’t sound like Paul Hogan. Quaid runs, jumps, drives, and shoots his way to the truth about why his mind was erased. Hint: it wasn’t erased by lots of tequila during Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale.
Total Recall has tons of over the top action sequences made possible with the latest state of the art CG effects that all the kids seem to like nowadays, but this old school movie guy misses old school movie magic; where effects guys rigged real explosions, car chases involved actual cars, and stunt people risk serious spinal injuries by jumping off really tall things while on fire – ah the good old days!
So what the dillio – did I like this high tech remake/re-imaging of a beloved sci-fi action film from my youth?
Sure, the three boobed hooker was a nice homage to the original, but without Mars, mutants, and Shwarzeneggar, Total Recall redux falls flat.
Total waste of a three boobed hooker if you ask me.
CONTRABAND (2012) Director: Baltaser Kormakur Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsdale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster Rating: R for violence, cussing, and bad Cajun accents
As I have pointed out in previous reviews, movie criminals have it a pretty sweet life. There’s lots of money, plenty of excitement, and best of all there’s always a chance for advancement when someone dies or gets arrested!
But… the biggest problem with being a top notch criminal in crime movies is that you can’t simply walk away from that life; you are forever locked into that world whether you like it or not. As our hero in Contraband learns, the crime world is like a gym membership: you pretty much have to die to make a clean break.
In Contraband, rapper turned underwear model turned A-list actor Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, a working class New Orleans lug with a steady job, a hot wife (Kate Beckinsdale, who seems resigned to a career of playing the hot wife or hot girlfriend when not killing vampires in the Underworld movies), and two kids who play soccer and love their Mom and Dad.
But before Contraband turns into a Chevy commercial, things get ugly when Chris’ idiot brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) gets in deep trouble with a vicious drug dealer named Briggs who’s a little peeved at Andy for tossing his shipment of dope overboard during a smuggling operation gone wrong.
Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi at his twitchy, oily best) demands immediate repayment for his drowned drugs. Since Andy is an idiot, Chris offers to raise cash for the shipment by returning to his smuggling career and pulling off one more lucrative caper.
Chris plans to sneak a ton of phony cash from a counterfeiter in Panama aboard a cargo ship bound for New Orleans. Unfortunately, the ship is captained by a first class hard-ass (J.K. Simmons) who hates Chris with a white hot passion, even though he will begrudgingly admit to his friends that “Good Vibrations” is a catchy tune.
Oh wait, that’s me.
Anyway, Chris and his cohorts get into all kinds of mischief in Panama when their deal goes south and Chris has to improvise a solution before his boat sets sail. Meanwhile, Chris’ wife is having some troubles of her own back home, as Briggs shows up from time to time to terrorize her with his big gun and ridiculous Cajun accent.
Hold on a second, maybe Chris’ former partner in crime Sebastian can help! But since he’s played by Ben Foster, who’s made a career playing scuzzballs who can’t be trusted, I’m going to advise you not to create the “I love Sebastian” Facebook page until you’ve seen the whole movie.
Things don’t look good for our hero! It’s all up to Chrissy Chris and his funky bunch to outwit the bad guys and get his stolen goods past customs agents and set things right!
And that is my last Mark Wahlberg/rapper joke ever. I promise.
Contraband is one of those movies where everything is gritty. The bad guys are gritty, the sets are gritty, the violence is gritty, and the film itself looks like it was dipped in something gritty. But if like gritty things, and want to learn a thing or two about the exciting world of smuggling, then sneak a copy of Contraband past customs and go to town.
Note: DVD Critics Corner does not condone the theft or smuggling of DVD movies. Just watch them on one of those Bit Torrent websites like everyone else does.