Final Recall, 2017.
Directed by Mauro Borrelli.
Starring Wesley Snipes, R.J. Mitte, Jedidiah Goodacre, Laura Bilgeri, Niko Pepaj, and Hannah Rose Nay.
A group of friends are spending the weekend at a cabin while, unbeknownst to them, aliens have begun to attack planet Earth. A number of them are abducted by the alien spaceship hovering over the forest. Annie and Charlie survive the mass-abduction and must rely on an eccentric and dangerous hunter who seems to have special knowledge of the attack. “The Hunter” goes on explaining that this day has been prophesized for years and extra-terrestrials have been guiding Earth’s evolution in preparation for their ultimate takeover.
Poor old Wesley Snipes. He’s had a tough time of it in the last decade. He never quite managed to capitalise fully on the success of the first two Blade films. He’d become bankable up to that point, especially among black audiences and a string of cult films such as New Jack City and White Men Can’t Jump certainly helped. However Blade made him mainstream. The first film was a big hit, the second cemented the popularity of Snipes as Blade. Before Marvel had become popular again, Blade paved the way. Not only that but it did so with an underground character. This wasn’t the atypical chiselled and all American Aryan hero studios perhaps felt audiences expected. The fact a black lead superhero film could bank over 100 million dollars in box office receipts, twice, was a good sign. Black Panther is due out next year, but lets not forget that Snipes, in Blade has already trodden some of this path. He should be considered more of a benchmark setter than he is.
Tax avoidance didn’t help, nor as a consequence in leading up to a big case, did the uninspired quick paycheck jobs he did to cover legal costs and repayments and in the meantime a disastrous third foray as Blade. Wesley did a long line of dire straight to video films. He was released with little fanfare having served his jail time. He got thrown straight back on the big screen courtesy of Sly Stallone’s action hero museum franchise The Expendables, in the third film. A critical bomb and commercial failure (though salvaged by strong international numbers, particularly in China), and a sorely underwritten role for a rusty Snipes didn’t pick up much attention. Aside from re-teaming with Spike Lee in Chi-Raq and a TV show (The Player) that didn’t garner much attention, Snipes has effectively dived straight back into straight to video world. Which brings us to his first headliner since his return…Final Recall.
When I say headliner of course, I mean in the current DTV definition of the word. Which is to say he is actually a supporting character, but all the marketing will push this as Wesley being the main man. Five young friends go on vacation in a remote cabin. You know the sorts. Five totally archetypal and poorly written young adults, none of whom are remotely interesting. Fairly standard. You’ve got the haunted one. The jock/douche, the slutty one, the nice one, and a geek (played by RJ Mitte of Breaking Bad). They have a brief gas station encounter with a crazy hunter (Mr Snipes). Then come across his remote cabin in the woods. All the while reports around the world of UFOs hovering over Cities take over the TVs. The film descends into an Alien invasion piece (but with a twist). It seems The Hunter has encountered them before and knows what they are after.
If this all sounds horrible, then worry not. Final Recall is actually surprisingly solid. For starters, Wesley Snipes is present and correct. I don’t mean he simply appears, but he actually invests in his character and has a little fun with him. He’s completely wacko and has lost all semblance of rational thought and social skills, but Wesley injects him with some personality. The rest of the cast aren’t up to his standard. Mitte is the best of an uninspired bunch, whilst the actual “lead” of the picture Jedidiah Goodacre (as Charlie) is a little flat most times, or overwrought in the other times. He never quite gets the balance right. The female roles are woefully written, but that’s par for the course in films like this to be perfectly honest.
The film looks good. Director Mauro Borrelli and DP, Mark Dobrescu combine well to create something that looks slick and beyond the standard DTV flick, whilst the CGI is also surprisingly good. It’s not top-level, but I’ve seen far worse, even in big screen flicks. One problem many high concept DTV films may have is having to rely a lot on CGI, and then the standard is poor, detracting from the story. Thankfully for Final Recall, the CG is good enough not to pull you away from what you’re watching.
The film may be watchable and nicely put together, but it has its problems. As already noted, Snipes is billed as the lead and he’s the best thing in this by a long way. This means that when Snipes isn’t on screen, the film suddenly loses energy. Everyone else is a bit dull. This in part can be put down to the script. However, we also have to consider that Snipes is a veteran and long before he became known as an ass-kicker, he was a well-considered actor loaded with potential. Spoke of in the same vein as Denzel Washington. Wesley’s career went down a path that hasn’t quite fulfilled his potential, because on his day he’s a great actor. This is far from his best role or performance, but he’s engaged and he acts the rest of the cast off the park with 3rd geared ease. Additionally the films biggest issue is that it builds up to a point then sort of stops and drifts to the end. It’s one of those open-ended finales that points to a potentially bigger, and greater story. The problem with this is that the story we’re sitting and watching now, doesn’t really close satisfactorily and there’s not really a strong finale. Just when it starts getting interesting, the writers and Borrelli let go of the reigns and then coast to their open-ended denouement that promises to set up a bigger and better film (which will never get made).
In all, Final Recall is a solid enough time passer. Snipes has fun and looks invigorated. Not only that, he looks great and looks like he could still don his Blade outfit and take out some suck heads. Ultimately though, the film is forgettable thanks to uninspired writing and a third act that peters out rather than sizzles.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★