Reel Critics: 'Recall' blends previous sci-fi flicks

Director Len Weisman honed his craft on loud action films like "Live Free and Die Hard" and the "Underworld" franchise.

His remake of "Total Recall" boils down to a two-hour futuristic chase movie with grandiose psychedelic overtones. The complex screenplay borrows elements from many action and sci-fi formulas.

Start with a heavy dose of "Blade Runner." Add lots of James Bond and Jason Bourne super spy exploits. Mix with advanced police state tactics from "Minority Report." Add a sprinkle of psycho dust from "Inception" and "Memento." And you end up with a non-stop adrenaline rush set in a disturbing future. But the PG-13 rating hides the R-rated nature of everything else in this film.

Colin Farell is the buffed stud at the center of this mind-bending tale. He goes to a company that promises to turn his spy fantasies into real life memories through a chemically induced program. Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are the two hot babes he encounters as the strange program unfolds. Determining what is truly real is the mutual task given to the players on screen and the audience alike.


'Killer Joe' is Deep Fried and Disturbing

Matthew McConaughey turns in another standout performance as "Killer Joe," a brutal little piece of deep-fried depravity from director William Friedkin ("The French Connection").

As a slick Texas detective-contract killer, Joe is hired by low-life Chris (Emile Hirsch) to kill his mother for the insurance money. Chris convinces his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church, terrific) it's the only way for Chris to pay off his gambling debts, but Ansel insists his new wife Charla (Gina Gershon) get a share of the profit too.

Since they can't pay him up front, Joe decrees that Chris' virginal sister Dottie (Juno Temple) will be his "down payment." Chris, Ansel and Charla greedily make the deal with devil, but of course there will be hell to pay later.

McConaghey has always had a bit of an edge (most recently displayed in "Magic Mike") and here he plays it brilliantly, playing a quietly terrifying guy and yet the most principled in this very perverse comic noir. Even the junkyard dog whimpers in his presence. He plays Joe as pure evil but with his own code of values and genuine feelings for Dottie.

Be warned: "Killer Joe" is extremely disturbing. And you may never want to look at a bucket of chicken again

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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