By: Nick Ferwerda
Even with an open mind and fair expectations, the latest sci-fi/thriller The Recall will leave you feeling disappointed.
The film follows a group of college-aged teens who decide to have a relaxing weekend at the cottage. Yes, this is a “cabin in the woods” movie, except this one has aliens – stay with me. Driving up to the cottage, they stop for gas along an old country road where they meet a stranger – who is referred to as The Hunter (Wesley Snipes). He is so unsettling, the gang leaves in fear.
At the cottage, the pals watch “breaking news” on their TV stating that weird cloud formations are forming everywhere throughout the world – this is when things go south for these kids. After finding out the formations in the sky are aliens coming down for a mass abduction, a laid-back weekend amongst friends turns into a death-defying fight with The Hunter assisting them against the invasion.
The Recall is playing at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto in an exclusive Barco Escape cinema. Barco Escape is a panoramic cinema made up of three screens to further immerse movie goers. This was the first film designed specifically for the Barco Escape, with filmmaker Mauro Borrelli staying faithful to the process without having to resort to post-production retrofitting. To give you more of an idea, the movie has a runtime of about 90 minutes, and roughly 30 minutes of it plays in panoramic mode.
I was interested in seeing how the Barco Escape would visualize the inevitable special effects in The Recall. However, it’s clear that this type of technology still needs to be ironed out, and is still looking for its ideal film to experiment with. The problematic panoramic mode often looked disconnected. The shots were of different lengths, occasionally grainy, and some were just plain out of focus.
While The Recall has its own set of charms, the immense lack of creativity left me sitting in my seat feeling empty and confused. Budding screenwriters Reggie Keyohara III and Sam Action King fill the story with dumb, unlikeable, one-dimensional characters that do not engage the audience with any conflict. What makes things worse is that the alien invasion is under-utilized when it comes to certain teenage demises – it makes you shake your head in disbelief.
The actors, on the other hand, gain my respect for soldiering through such flat material. Wesley Snipes’ Hunter role may blend into his action filmography, but Hannah Rose May (TV’s Ballers), Jedidiah Goodacre (Tomorrowland), Laura Bilgeri, and Niko Pepaj all do an admirable job at attempting to flesh out the impossible. The only true standout though is RJ Mitte (of Breaking Bad fame).
The Recall should’ve been a 15-minute short. By keeping the story shorter and simpler, the audience would’ve been, at least, entertained. By extending it, the film’s pacing becomes droopy and its amateur mistakes are more glaring.
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Nick Ferwerda: @NickFerwerda