Tag Archives: Kate Beckinsale

Total Recall: Review

6 Aug

The reboot of 1990′s Total Recall opened in theatres this weekend. Unlike its predecessor, the new Total Recall has a family friendly rating, huge production budget and loads of CGI. Mutants and Martians have been replaced by beautiful women, sleek new robots and highly advanced technology.

Colin Farrell plays Douglas Quaid, a dissatisfied factory worker who may be a secret agent under the employ of the evil Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) or working for resistance leader, Matthias (Bill Nighy). This version takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where only the UK (the United Federation of Britain) and Australia (the Colony) remain after another world war and chemical warfare. The two land masses are connected by a huge elevator called “the Fall” that transports workers from the poor crowded Colony to the rich and affluent United Federation of Britain (UFB).

Quaid lives a one room apartment in the Colony with his wife, Laurie (Kate Beckinsale). Though Quaid’s marriage seems solid and stable, he finds himself dreaming about another woman (Jessica Biel). Trying to add some excitement to his life, Quaid goes to Rekall – a company that can implant a variety of fake memories into clients’ minds. Quaid decides to implant memories of being a secret agent, but before the procedure can start federal agents break into Rekall and everything goes wrong.

Acting on instinct, Quaid kills all the federal agents and escapes home to his wife. While comforting her distraught husband, Laurie attempts to suffocate him. After an intense fight scene, Laurie reveals that she’s a federal agent employed by Cohaagen to pose as Quaid’s wife. A confused Quaid manages to outrun Laurie and begins to unravel the mystery of his identity.

The first twenty minutes of the movie are promising. Farrell seems immersed in the character and is believable as an unhappy Douglas Quaid. He spends his nights shuffling around a dirty overcrowded city contemplating how and why his life has turned out this way. Unfortunately, once Quaid heads to Rekall, director Len Wiseman abandons the characters in favour of making a full-fledged action movie.

The explosions, shoot-outs and fight scenes dominate the movie and there’s every kind of chase scene imaginable. Beckinsale relentlessly pursues Farrell and Biel through city streets, in an elevator, in a car, in “the Fall” and then some more. Len Wiseman obviously thinks very highly of his lovely wife because throughout Total Recall, Beckinsale is kicking ass, taking names and looking smoking hot while doing it.

In comparison, resistance fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) seems infinitely boring and bland. Though she desperately wants Quaid to remember his role with the resistance and their relationship, her character’s sad and slightly pathetic. She’s a far cry from Rachel Ticotin’s tough as nails Melina in the original.

After a solid hour of explosions and fight scenes, Quaid meets Matthias and audiences finally start to learn more about Douglas Quaid, whose real name is Carl Hauser. Our hero learns Hauser was a UFB agent that switched sides and joined the resistance after meeting Melina. Rather than discuss Hauser’s role with the resistance or why he switched sides, Farrell and Nighy have a trite and tiring conversation about what really defines a person – their memories or their present actions. Forced and tacked on, the conversation leads to nothing and Nighy seems as bored and uninterested by the dialogue as the audience is.

Despite its production value, talented actors and special effects, Total Recall is uninspired and lacks the charisma, fun and flamboyance of the original movie. Ultimately, Total Recall will turn a good profit, but disappear into the realm of forgettable action movies.

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Contraband Review

24 Jan

From the trailers, Contraband is a toted as a gritty action packed heist film.  Unfortunately it never escapes being a B grade action movie.

The story follows Chris Farratay (Mark Wahlberg) a one-time smuggler who’s started a legitimate business and is father to two young boys and a devoted husband to Kate (Kate Beckinsale). When Kate’s little brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) botches a job and dumps a shipment of cocaine, Chris has to pay back the lost money or local thug, Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) will kill Andy and Chris’ family.

Chris tries to negotiate with Briggs, but with little success and he only has a couple weeks to get the money back. With help from his childhood friend Sebastian (Ben Foster), Chris sets up a heist smuggling counterfeit American bills from Panama.  There are typical heist movie betrayals, twists and turns, but the plot feels formulaic and most of the “surprises” you can see coming a mile away.

Contraband is full of plot holes and ridiculous moments.  At one point Andy steals money from Chris and abandons him in Panama to buy a new shipment of cocaine from a drug dealer named Rueben. How did Andy know how to get to the drug dealer’s place without ever having been to Panama City?  Chris is obviosuly angry, but also angry that he was smuggling drugs.  Oh look, he’s a smuggler with morals.  It’s trivial I know, yet I found myself concentrating on these tiny problems instead of worrying about what would happen to the characters.  Not a good sign…

Casting is decent.  Mark Wahlberg plays the same character again. He looks tough and acts tough, but he’s such a sweetheart underneath it all. Tears.  Giovanni Ribisi as Briggs is perfectly sleazy and dirty just how I like him. There are other talented actors sprinkled in Contraband, like Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and J.K. Simmons (Spiderman). They’re a welcome distraction from the stilted plot and it’s too bad that you don’t see more of them.  My biggest problem with casting is Kate Beckinsale. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a babe, which is the problem. It’s distracting how pretty she is next to all the gritty drug dealing types.  An A list celebrity is not required in a B action movie as the “Put Upon Wife”.

As for action, it’s not in the same league as Jason Statham films.  There’s one or two chase scenes and a couple of scenes where Wahlberg beats on Briggs, but definitely not enough action.  One thing I was surprised about was how often Kate was roughed up in the movie.   It’s amazing her character didn’t have permanent brain damage; she’s thrown into a sink, slammed face first into a counter and a mirror.  It’s surprising to see Beckinsale getting her ass kicked when you’re used to her as Seline in the Underworld movies.

All things considered, if you like modern action movies and are looking to shut off your brain for two hours, Contraband is the movie for you.

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