Total Recall

Total Recall


What is real?

A re-adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s classic short story, set in a futuristic sci-fi world where memories can be relived, for a price. For factory worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip of Rekall - a company that implants artificial memories - sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man.... More

Finding himself on the run from the police - controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world - Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen.Hide

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Flicks Review

I'm not opposed to remakes in general, but there is an onus on the new film to at least attempt to go a little further with the material. In this regard, the new Total Recall fails miserably.... More

Despite the "What is Real?" marketing slogan, the new film shows little interest in the reality-bending ambiguities of the original, and is content to tell a pretty straight-forward (read: dull) spy story.

In other areas, Total Recall does a reasonable job. The mildly Blade Runner-esque future Earth is dense and colourful with requisite showy tech elements like light-up tattoos and magnetic hover cars. And the giant elevator that goes through the centre of the Earth makes for some interesting moments, despite its overall ridiculousness. I also really liked the robot police force.

Colin Farrell's lack of acting distinction suits his poorly-drawn lead character, while Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are both overshadowed by their cheekbones. Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston is miscast as the cackling villain behind it all, but it was nice seeing the gargoyle-headed Bokeem Woodbine back in a studio film as Farrell's buddy.

The big-budget blandness that permeated director Len Wiseman's previous film Die Hard 4.0 ultimately defines the proceedings here too, plus he outdoes JJ Abrams' Star Trek for overuse of distracting lens flares (Len's flares?).

There are many places a new version of Total Recall could've gone, but this film sets the bar very low for the upcoming Robocop remake.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 5 ratings, 5 reviews
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BY Jed nobody

Total Recall goes a long way to distinguish itself from the 80's trash masterpiece it shares a name with and deserves to shake the remake stigma associated with it. While the premise, and a large amount of the plot are the same, it feels much like its own film, with its astonishing visual landscape and own twists on the ideas presented in the previous film that keep you guessing right up until the end. If you can put your preconceptions, and Arnie, behind you, Total Recall is one of the best... More action scifis to be released in years.Hide

BY GrahamP superstar

This is a full on action movie.It does not have the same story as the original,but does have the Rekall Company which offers a fantasy dream of choice.
What was interesting was an elevator where they have to"reverse the magnetic field"
It is an easy watch but one needs to be attentive for there are some twists in the story.Better than expected.

Director Paul Verhoeven's 1990 Schwarzenegger-starring sci-fi blockbuster, 'Total Recall' was loosely based on Philip K. Dick's 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." The result was a fun film that never took itself too seriously and contained some truly memorable real-life special effects, costumes, prosthetics and sets. Now Len Wiseman, the director behind such slick but empty fare as 'Underworld' and 'Die Hard 4' attempts to remember Verhoeven's movie for you - but rather... More than wholesale copying, he adds his own spin - simultaneously managing to subtract the fun and thought-provoking mischievousness of its predecessor.

The special effects, scenery and CGI are first rate - although this is a vision of the future that liberally, er, "borrows" from Spielberg's superlative and highly underrated Dick-based sci-fi 'Minority Report', and the movie that made adapting Dick a Hollywood fashion - Ridley Scott's seminal, 'Blade Runner.' Wiseman also employs so many lens-flares that his film rivals J. J. Abrams' 'Super 8' for sheer lens-f****-flare annoyance.

Whereas Verhoeven's version was literally out of this world (with much of the action set on Mars), Wiseman's keeps it's CGI feet on Earth, as Douglas Quaid (a serviceable but rather bland Colin Farrell), runs from, well, everyone. He runs from the Police. He runs from his undercover "wife" Lori - who's actually Director Len Wiseman's better-half, Kate Beckinsale - who clearly has a ball as the femme fatale. And he runs from a seriously miscast Bryan Cranston, who does his level best at gurning and hissing as badguy Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen - so much so that all he's missing is a cape and moustache to twirl...

The supporting cast (including Quaid's supposed best bud, Bokeem Woodbine, and underground resistance fighters Bill Nighy and Jessica Biel) take a backseat to the CGI - as does the script, which replaces the "what's is real?" question at the heart of the original with a pretty straightforward chase-and-escape, cat n' mouse thriller, in which neither reality nor character development are ever in question.

At the end of the day? Wiseman's unnecessary remake succeeds merely as distracting popcorn fare. The surprise for me was that it also served to recall that, in comparison to this bland, by-the-numbers, glossy-surfaced, empty-headed, two-dimensional rehash, Verhoeven's 1990 original was actually pretty good.Hide

BY RealityCheck superstar

Was totally re-done, if you can forget the original (if you saw it) then its not too bad. Many future scenes reminiscent of 'Minority Report' 'iRobot' and '5th Element' facts but still a good popcorn watch. Everyone seems to have seen Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator, even the screen writers. I did enjoy (the 3 boob lady &) it as a trip of escapism forgoing the Mars experience.
Genre : Action, thriller, future, love
2/5 : enjoyable to a point, some scenes could have been cut shorter & viewers... More of its predecessor may leave disappointedHide

I have a very large soft spot for the original 1990 Total Recall. Somehow, director Paul Verhoeven managed to infuse a typical goofy 1980s-style action film with some legitimately clever ideas and themes. The movie had its tongue planted firmly in cheek, but achieved its iconic cult status for going beyond being just another Schwarzenegger vehicle.

Fast forward to 2012, where director Len Wiseman has stripped away that great combo of intelligence and goofiness, leaving an uninspired, overly... More serious, and, quite frankly, boring sci-fi action romp, barely held together by solid performances and a largely unaltered core story.

Wiseman's update of Total Recall remains true to the original plot (and, I assume, Philip K. Dick's novel) for the most part, with any changes an attempt to ground the film in reality as much as possible. Taking place wholly on Earth rather than travelling to Mars, Total Recall 2012 again follows Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), a production-line worker frustrated by his unremarkable life, who visits the somewhat shady company Rekall in pursuit of memory implants which will offer a more exciting history than his own. All doesn't go to plan however, when a malfunction at Rekall reveals that Quaid is in fact a secret agent whose memory has previously been replaced, kicking off a chase sequence that more or less covers the remainder of the film.

The always dependable Farrell commits himself admirably to a role that really doesn't offer much development, and Wiseman surrounds him with a great supporting cast who unfortunately are given very little to do (Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy among others). Jessica Biel falls flat as love interest Melina, but Kate Beckinsale is something of a surprise, relishing her villainous role and chewing every scene she appears in.

Unfortunately, Total Recall's story and action can't match the quality of the performances. Unlike the original film, there's never really any doubt about the reality of what Quaid is experiencing. Verhoeven managed an ambiguity which created tension early on, leaving audiences to speculate whether everything was taking place in Schwarzenegger's mind, but Wiseman simply spells everything out plainly. There are numerous references to the original here too, most of which are unnecessary, while some are either needlessly distracting or simply blow by so fast that you wonder why they even bothered.

The most egregious flaws however are in the action sequences. Wiseman crafts the film like a platform video game, with characters running and jumping endlessly, stopping occasionally to deliver the next story beat. Perhaps it speaks to my general disinterest with modern video games, but the action sequences feel over-long and repetitive, and at the moments when the film should be at its most fast-paced, it begins to drag.

So Len Wiseman's Total Recall isn't the worst remake to come along in recent years, but it's just another gritty reboot that no-one asked for. It suffers in comparison to the original, can't really stand on its own, and feels like an unsuccessful blend of Super Mario Bros. and Blade Runner. What could have been a slice of fun nostalgia is taken far too seriously by a director of questionable talent, leaving Total Recall, despite Farrell and Beckinsale's best efforts, simply the next in an ever-growing lineup of failed retreads.


The Press Reviews

30% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Its only evident passion is for excessive lens flares. Full Review

  • Total Recall is well-crafted, high energy sci-fi. Like all stories inspired by Philip K. Dick, it deals with intriguing ideas. It never touched me emotionally, though, the way the 1990 film did, and strictly speaking, isn't necessary. Full Review

  • The outcome is engaging enough, although not entirely satisfying from either a genre or narrative standpoint, lacking both substance and a degree of imagination. Full Review

  • The fun is fun while it lasts, it just doesn't last long enough. Full Review

  • Entertaining in small doses, but gruelling at two hours, Wiseman's derivative, spec-hackular upgrade bins the twisted wit and meaty thrills of the Arnie original. Full Review

  • Crazy new gadgets, vigorous action sequences and a thorough production-design makeover aren't enough to keep Total Recall from feeling like a near-total redundancy. Full Review

  • So what makes this 2012 Total Recall superior to the Arnie model? For starters, there's an actual actor in the starring role. Full Review

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