I’ll admit, the first time I heard about the new Total Recall I thought the same thing most of you probably are thinking: “Really, another remake?” Yes, unfortunately it’s true. Hollywood has officially run out of Ideas.
For the people who haven’t seen the movie, Total Recall is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he’s got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life – real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police – controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (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. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.
While giving Total Recall a facelift, they try to keep some of the key elements from the original version intact. However, the major difference in this remake is the violence and brutality – or should I say lack thereof. I was disappointed (being a fan of the original version) I was excited to see what the remake had to offer. Unfortunately they brought nothing more but a parent pleasing PG-13 flick to the table. I’m not saying this film is completely wussed out. It is simply not as graphic or over the top as its predecessor. It was lacking the “Balls” that Arnold’s version brought to the big screen. Other shortfalls in the film are the massive plot holes and loose threads. While the narrative never leaves the planet, (no mission to Mars in this version) the film follows a convoluted path that often makes little sense. If you can “recall” yourselves to get past this, you might enjoy whatever non-sense is happening on screen.
As far as acting goes, it is mainly between two major stars. Colin Farrell (Douglas Quaid) and Kate Beckinsale (Lori Quaid). Colin Farrell’s interpretation of the protagonist is much different than Schwarzenegger’s. Farrell’s is more low-key and introverted. Unlike Arnold’s campy one-liners and brute force approach (which is missed in this version) Farrell attempts to bring out his Golden Globe-winning performance, but it lacks the nutrition and just falls flat. Beckinsale plays like it’s an Underworld film. As if they pulled her character “Selene” out from that film and dropped her straight into this one. She plays almost if not the exact same roll with no new emotion or depth to her character. Instead of hunting Lichens she’s simply hunting Quaid. Working with the same director as Underworld probably didn’t help in the matter.
Despite the 2012 interpretation being visually stunning and full of spectacular action sequences. The real problem with the film lies in its director – Len Wiseman. Total Recall might be a “remake” but feels like extensions of a film we have all watched before. With Wiseman’s choices of lens filters, contrasts and colour tones, to Kate Beckinsale’s acting – Wiseman leaves his Underworld imprint all over this film. When dealing with action sequences, he’s fine. When attempting to give his story drive, depth and energy – he fails. This movie is simply eye candy without any substance. The acting is fine, and the premise, while flawed, finds occasional sci-fi pleasures. Nevertheless when you are given the chance to remake a film, you should take advantage of it and correct the mistakes that were made in the previous version. If you can’t correct the wrongs and out due the old, why bother? Overall the films is a mix between Underworld, Minority Report, I-Robot and maybe throw in a little Star Wars Attack of the Clones due to Cohaagen’s soldiers looking so similar to clone troopers.
If you want to save yourself some money, watch the original. I give Total Recall 2012 a 5/10.
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“Total Recall 2012”, is rated PG-13 Contains intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and language. Running time: 118 minutes. In theatres everywhere August 3, 2012.