Total Recall (Remake): in order to take a break from his life Douglas Quaid visits Rekall, a company that implants false memories to distract people from their pitiful existence. I went into this expecting a big steaming pile of shiitake mushrooms, but was pleasantly surprised by how daft and enjoyable it was. Not a whole lot has been changed from the original movie – other than the edges being filed down – but there is so much action that you didn’t really have the time to think about the story more than 30 seconds. Fist fights, gunfights, robot fights, chases, explosions, floating cars, and loads of future tech – all set in a spectacular world that evokes the metropolises featured in the likes of Minority Report, Fifth Element, iRobot, and more recently, Dredd. Whilst it will never win any awards for acting, originality, politics (Great Britain and the Australian sub-human Colony – LOL) or even being a required remake – the 2012 Total Recall gives the original a modern facelift, putting an emphasis on the ‘instantly forgettable CGI-heavy Sci-Fi action romp’ angle.
Nothing But the Truth: after outing a covert CIA agent, a journalist is given the choice to either reveal her source or do time in jail. The film is completely hinged on the decision to put either free speech or national security first; presenting both sides of the argument in great detail, and very fairly – however the film makes you think about it, and decide for yourself. The story is topped off with a fantastic ending that wraps up the film neatly and explains certain decisions and convictions held throughout the movie. It’s also got quite the cast: Kate Beckinsale lures you in for the duration, Matt Dillon is great as the prosecuting hot-shot, Vera Varmiga is very believable… but everyone is outshone by Alan Alda who acts his socks off in what few scenes he has – he’s truly captivating. There’s no frills, no fancy tricks, no cheesy direction, no mood music, which make it all seem very realistic, especially coupled with the solid characters and fine acting. Like Season 5 of The Wire / State of Play there’s a nice insight into the grind of a journalist, and some of the loopholes / technicalities they need to watch out for. Nothing But the Truth presents you with a sensitive political dilemna, and lets you deal with it – a very effective, intelligent ‘thought-provoking’ political drama.
“A man can live a good life, be honorable, give to charity, but in the end, the number of people who come to his funeral is generally dependent on the weather.”
Contraband: a struggling ex-con must secure his family’s safety by doing one final smuggling run. Being a re-make of Rekjavik-Rotterdam, Hollywood does what it does best and strips out a lot of the smaller background stories, characters, undertones, and relationships that thickened up the original plot, and raised the stakes a little more. Wahlberg‘s steady, but disappointingly typecast as the everyman, and costume-wise, could be from any previous film. This is all minor compared to Giovanni Ribisi, what the fuck is he doing!? His lines were delivered in the most ridiculous accent I’ve heard in years. The rest of the supporting cast really do keep the film propped up, although nobody’s particularly stretched. It’s well-directed, with the urgency maximised and lots of nice shots that play with focusing – it feels quite European / independent. There’s a decent gunfight in the middle (audio is immense) and in true modern heist fashion lots of loose ends are tied up in the final 15 mins. Unfortunately, New Orleans felt like an excuse for decent music, and nothing more. As expected, this is pretty much a cut-down, edges-smoothed, version of the original. It’s decent, but I’d suggest seeking out the original instead.
Underworld: Awakening (3D):
27th 4th installment of vampires vs werewolves where Kate Beckinsale jumps around in a skin-tight pvc suit, firing shiny guns at hairy beasties. The Vampires vs Lycans story is stretched about as far as it can be here, a couple of plot contrivances later and you have a non-sensicle semi-story (i.e. a reason for the SFX) that almost justifies another film. The action is decent enough, styalised slow-mo and very gory; there’s blood, bones and limbs splattering everywhere. Instead of standard filler, the film gets carried away with good wedge of characterisation and ‘emotional scenes’ – not what you’re expecting, or wanting here. Technically it’s decent although some of the werewolves look like jerky claymation in times (could be the 3D) and it may as well have been shot in black and white. The 3D is wholly unnecessary, so subtle that there was no real depth in the picture, or pointy pokery – no 2D option available at my local. Underworld Awakening is more of the same, exactly what it looks like, and probably won’t overly disappoint (or impress) fans of the franchise and stray punters alike.