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Total Recall (2012 film)

a movie directed by Len Wiseman

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Is it Your Mind or Your Choices That Make it Real?

  • Aug 14, 2012
When I first heard of a “Total Recall” remake, I have to admit I was a little put off. I mean, how can someone remake one of Schwarzenegger’s action classics? I thought it would be an unnecessary remake, but then I watch anything with Kate Beckinsale and my curiosity had been aroused after I saw the trailers.

Remakes are surely meant to apply the premise to a more modern audience, to expand on its premise and perhaps improve on the original. There are a small number of remakes out there that I liked better than the original, and while director Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall” is not one of them, I cannot say that I did not enjoy this action-sci-fi thriller. Wiseman’s “Total Recall” is less of a remake but more of a re-issue, as there is no trip to Mars, no mutates, and takes more of a political and social commentary than an out-of-planet sci-fi romp.

                             Colin Farrell in "Total Recall."

                            Jessica Biel and Colin Farrell in "Total Recall."

In this future, much of the planet has been deemed uninhabitable after a war. The Earth has been divided into two sectors where humans can live. These are the United Federation of Britain where the rich and the fortunate live while the other is simply called The Colony where the less fortunate, common workers live. The only means of transportation between the two sectors is called “The Fall”, a large transport device that shoots pass the Earth’s core. There is some political tension between the two, as terrorism seem to be rampant.

In the colony, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a common worker in a police robot plant, who lives with his wife, Lori (beauteous Kate Beckinsale). Doug has been bothered by his dreams where he has a different life, and these dreams prompt him to pay a visit to ReKall in the hopes of finding some satisfaction. But before ReKall can do the deed, Federal police bursts into the scene and Doug’s life will never again be the same. Doug is now set to try to find out the truth, as his efforts takes him into a ride that only a woman named Melina (Jessica Biel) may be able to help. What he finds is that he is more than who he believes he is, and the governing body that rules both the UFB and the Colony is about to unleash a sinister plan.

                         Colin Farrell in "Total Recall."

                        Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel in "Total Recall."

Wiseman’s movie may use similar characters, borrows some devices from the original and even has several sequences that pay homage to the original film, but this is far from a remake. The main premise of the film may be similar, but the themes have been changed. There is a very strong theme that applies to current events, as the film brings into the story a commentary about the rich dominating the poor, and how one governing body has this almost iron grip that controls the rest of the world. Land is the most important commodity in this world, and so, the rich and the fortunate are blessed with a land where technology is far more advanced, while the poor are left all crowded in a very small patch of land. I guess, the script by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback was trying to relate to what is going on right now, as the rich seem to get richer and the poor just gets to survive.

The film does have some issues left undefined, and honestly, it was meant to be as such. The script also leaves about some questions, but they were easy to answer as long as you absorb what was going on in the film. Being a re-issue and a remake, the film can be a little predictable, even with its additions of twists and turns that makes it different. “Total Recall” is a film driven by its action sequences much like the original by Paul Verhoeven. The film is essentially a chase film as Quaid goes about his efforts to uncover the truth and to find out who he really is. There is a lot of gunfights, visually arresting stunts and hand-to hand combat that is sure to satisfy the action fan. There are even some robot cops and some cool gadgets that were indeed an expansion from the original’s gadgetry. The film’s visuals were also quite good and was a update to the original (but arguably not as clever), albeit some designs reminded me a bit too much of “Minority Report”. Regardless, there was something truly interesting the way the UFB differed from the Colony, it was almost as if it was an expression as to how one side were left behind by the other.

                           Kate Beckinsale in "Total Recall."

Kate Beckinsale in "Total Recall."  Kate Beckinsale in "Total Recall."

Farrell is no Schwarzenegger and he does not pretend to be as such. No, he doesn’t use that nose gadget to get that bug out of his head and only Arnold can pull off those wild facial expressions. Farrell was a competent lead, but he would be such a boring one if he hasn’t been supported by the driving presence of Kate Beckinsale (Underworld: Awakening). The plot was being driven by Quaid’s quest for the truth, and such a quest would be meaningless without a fine obstacle embodied by Beckinsale. Beckinsale plays the two roles played by Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside in the original movie and she does it so well that she just steals the show. Jessica Biel plays a more significant role than the original’s Melina, as she exemplifies the film’s moral stances. She is seen as the catalyst for the changes within the lead character. There is a strong female empowerment theme as Quaid is surrounded by two strong-willed women as they appeared to be so intent in opposing one another, expressed both by their actions and their commitment to their beliefs.

The film would be best described as “Bourne Identity” colliding with “I, Robot” all wrapped around designs similar to “Minority Report” that has the original’s core premise driving its story. 2012’s “Total Recall” has all the right stuff to entertain with its fast-paced, action-packed sequences and impressive visual effects. The film even left some questions hanging and leaves an open twist in its narrative. Is Carl Hauser truly a man who chose what he did, or was he someone who really lost touch with his own reality and true alliances? Some may see them as a plot pocket, but I think Wiseman meant for it to be decided by the viewer. While I am not sure if this remake was necessary, I have to admit that Len Wiseman has once again proven that he is a capable action director. “Total Recall” was a fun action romp and I guess I was just so happy to see Kate Beckinsale once again kicking some serious ass.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Total Recall." Poster art for "Total Recall."
An Entertaining Action-Packed Remake with a Social Commentary

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August 17, 2012
I really have no interest in seeing this since I know it can't top the Schwarzenegger classic.
August 17, 2012
I was a little pleased with this because it was able to update certain things (Liked the development and changes to Beckinsale's character) that can apply to real current events and the action and EFX were an update. But yeah, Schwarzenegger's movie is superior and more charming.
August 16, 2012
"The film would be best described as "Bourne Identity" colliding with "I, Robot" all wrapped around designs similar to "Minority Report" that has the original's core premise driving its story." I will check it out WP. I wasn't sure at first about this.
August 17, 2012
I gotta tell you, even if it was predictable (it is a remake), I had fun with this one.
More Total Recall (2012 film) reviews
review by . February 22, 2013
You may have noticed that recently, we've seen new movies from the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis. Things like this are usually coincidental, but after seeing the 2012 remake of Total Recall, I'm convinced that it was a result of all three of these iconic action stars also seeing that movie, getting fed up over the catatonic state of action movies today, and taking to the big screen once again to show today's pseudo-philosophical, overtly serious, shell-shocked …
review by . August 22, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Do you know that moment when you're trying somethingDo you know that moment when you're trying something you loved as a kid and it leaves you a bitter feeling but still "forcing" yourself to like it just because it was the thing you grew up with? That's the same thing with this Total Recall and I might add that it's a bit weird that I say this since I'm not really one of the people who consider the original film a classic. Sure I loved it as a kid, sure it has an interesting …
review by . August 20, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         I could turn this review of Total Recall into a debate over which version of the film is better, but unless there are obvious gaps in idea, execution, and quality, I refrain from approaching remakes on that level. Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 film of the same name had particular traits that made it entertaining, and the same can be said for the 2012 reboot. I’m most appreciative of the one element common to both films, namely the concept of …
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