Viewed – 27 July 2021 online rental

Bob Odenkirk made his name primarily as the bumbling yet likeable lawyer Saul Goodman in acclaimed TV sensation Breaking Bad. However I’d have never imagined him as some badass former assassin, but that’s the premise we have here as he plays Hutch, a family man hiding a secret that gets unearthed after he pisses off a bunch of Russian mobsters.

No more Mr nice guy…

From the writers of the John Wick franchise, this also has vibes of Liam Neeson hit Taken mixed with Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, with a rapid pace and plenty of kick-ass violence, all shot with no end of style and wincing choreography. Odenkirk, playing against type is clearly having a ball and is surprisingly convincing. The story however is merely an excuse to show Odenkirk in such sequences and doesn’t add up to much. At around 92 minutes it also felt rushed and occasionally forced just to make things ‘happen’ (he beats up a group of guys on a bus, simply to prove he’s still got it). The main villain is also rather one-note and stereotypical. However it was really great to see the legendary Christopher Lloyd as Hutch’s dad joining in with the mayhem.

For its style, some fun humour and quality action, this entertained well enough … but I couldn’t escape the feeling there was a bigger story here we were not seeing, lacking the world-building of the aforementioned Wick movies. Check this out if you’re an action fan, and as a vehicle for Odenkirk you’ll find this eye-opening. Yet for a fully fleshed out experience – I was left wanting.

Verdict: Good

Total Recall

Viewed – 20 July 2012  Blu-ray

Ultimate Rekall Edition

With the prospect of yet another remake of a classic movie on the horizon, I thought it as good a time as any to rediscover one of my favorite sci-f action movies of the nineties.  Around the time (1990) you couldn’t avoid big budget event pictures starring Austrian hulk and now former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger … and one of his best was this adaptation of the novel by Philip K Dick (Blade Runner, Minority Report).

Arnie plays Douglas Quade, a construction worker who is always fantasizing about living on Mars.  Yet when he decides to realize his dreams by having a memory implant done by shady company ‘Rekall’ he soon finds his perception of reality radically altered as a gang of mercenaries and a band of resistance are suddenly out to find him.  This is classic sci-fi … a great, mind bending concept, futuristic technology, aliens and government conspiracies.  Arnie is perfect in a role that gives him a lot more to do than just flex his pecs and mow down bad guys.  Under the direction of Paul Verhoeven this also becomes something else.  Having proved his sci-fi skills with cult favorite Robocop, the Dutch helmsman dresses up proceedings in his trade mark sleaze, unnecessary violence and b-movie excess, but aided by a real Hollywood budget.  The effects still look good, most notably Rob Botin’s brilliant make-up designs that still hold their wow-factor.  Some of the early CGI however looks dodgy, but considering this movie is over 20 years old, that’s an easy thing to forgive.

Supporting cast including a before she was famous Sharon Stone and henchman for hire Michael Ironside are both good, and genre stalwart Ronnie Cox returns with a similarly villainous turn as he delivered in Robocop.  In this age of superb effects and stunning, anything is possible technology, the movie is showing its age and the over-the-top feel and Verhoeven’s style seems a tad distasteful and to an extent, absurd (a machine gun wielding midget prostitute, anyone?).  So a product of it’s time, but this remains a great deal of fun … and worthy of seeking out, even if you’ve watched it a dozen times already (like me).

The Blu-ray, whilst not a disaster image-wise, tends to look a touch too bright in comparison to previous DVD versions and that eighties / early nineties soft-focus look does rear its head.  Close-up detail is good though and overall this is still a very nice looking presentation, free of edge enhancement or noise reduction.  The 5.1 DTS Master Audio track is serviceable without being particularly impressive, with a somewhat hollow sound to the dialogue.  Extras consist of the same commentary from the DVD re-release a few years back with Arnie and Verhoeven, as well as a new interview with the director, archive featurettes and documentaries.  A good package then even if the movie’s treatment in HD could have been better … but for fans its still one for the collection.


(the movie): 4 /5

(the Blu-ray): 3 /5