It was confirmed this week that Colin Farrell will play the lead in Len Wiseman’s Total Recall adaptation, to be released in 2012. Rather than a straight remake of the 90’s movie, it is expected to be much closer to Philip K. Dick’s original novel. This is good news for the film, and even better news for Farrell. The talented Irishman has not had the most stellar of careers to this point, and hopefully an intelligent Dick adaptation with a hard sci-fi edge can help him continue his journey back to the A-list.
It all started so well for Colin Farrell. after his early TV work in Ireland, he made his film breakthrough with an impressive performance in the 2000 war movie Tigerland. His good work in this movie meant he jumped quickly to the fore in Hollywood, with a supporting role in Steven Spielberg’s big budget blockbuster Minority Report, another Dick adaptation, alongside superstar Tom Cruise. Following this, Farrell reteamed with Tigerland director Joel Schumacher for his first major Hollywood lead role in Phonebooth. Phonebooth received mixed reviews, but Farrell had found himself firmly on the A-list at a young age.
His momentum continued with The Recruit. In it, Farrell acted alongside one of his acting idols Al Pacino, who reportedly praised Farrell as one of the brightest young actors of a generation. At the age of 27 Farrell seemed to be on the verge of superstardom, but it didn’t quite carry off. His ascent was slowed down by his appearance as a bit part villain in the frankly dire Daredevil, a film that also began Ben Affleck’s career nosedive. The ill effects of Daredevil were compounded by a role in critical flop S.W.A.T., a movie which did none of its stars any favours. His lowest career point may well have been the over indulgent Alexander, loved by some but ultimately a high profile critical and commercial failure.
Farrell’s CV has been spotty ever since. Perhaps hampered by his reputation as a hard drinking womanizer, Farrell managed to grab the odd big role over the next few years thanks to his great talent, most notably in the love it or hate it Miami Vice reimagining, but wasn’t able to put a string of hits together. This has begun to change in the last few years however, beginning with surprise hit In Bruges. Telling the tale of two Irish hitmen hiding out in the quaint Belgian town, In Bruges was a wonderfully dark tragi-comedy that found its way into the IMDb top 250 films. It also won Farrell a Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. Farrell was back.
Farrell has been grafting his way back up ever since. He was one of four fine actors to take over Heath Ledger’s role in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus following the Australian actor’s tragic death. He also appeared in the film that finally won Jeff Bridges an Oscar, the music drama Crazy Heart. This past year he has appeared in London Boulevard and The Way Back. Colin Farrell has cleaned up his act, completing a course of rehabilitation for addiction to recreational drugs and painkillers, and has manged to get his career back firmly on the right path. The lead role in Total Recall is the culmination of this, and hopefully it can achieve the critical and financial success that Farrell’s talent deserves.
So the question is, will Total Recall succeed? The previous adaptation, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was a classic sci-fi action film, and scored at the box office. Schwarzenegger is a much higher profile star however, and it remains to be seen if any other big names are attached alongside Farrell’s. It is too early to tell much about the new film’s prospects, but looking at Director Wiseman’s filmography rings some alarm bells. Two Underworld movies, and the worst of the four Die Hard films in 4.0 does not bode well at all. His next film, The World After, is due out this year and will help show whether he is improving as a filmmaker.
I very much hope he is. Total Recall done well has the potential to be one of the truly great, intelligent science fiction classics. In Farrell, it has a talented and charismatic actor with the potential, and the looks, to be one of Hollywood’s leading men. I shall be following the progress of this particular project with great interest from now on.
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