Total Recall (2012) – Review
From the man who brought us the Underworld franchise, Len Wiseman tackles the remake of the 90s Schwarzenegger cult classic Total Recall. Apparently more faithful to the source material “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, Wiseman pumps up the action and packs the screen with sharp, visually stunning eye candy.
A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall, a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led. Things go horribly wrong and his life falls apart, starting with his wife trying to kill him.
The original Total Recall was a fun Schwarzenegger vehicle chock full of his trademark one liners, cheezy dialogue, and some goofy practical effects. It was however, one of the more intelligent Schwarzenegger films of it’s time, and earned its cult status with a three breasted woman and a stomach popping mutant. Wiseman’s Total Recall is stripped of all the intentional silliness and carries a more serious, gritty tone. There are obvious nods to the original throughout the film including the aforementioned three breasted woman. I was however a little disappointed in the omission of Kuato. When Bill Nighy walked out in his trench coat, I was like “wait for it…..” but nope… no Kuato. Any real connection to mutant supernatural elements were removed from the remake. Disappointed, yes, but I completely understand that any foray into such territory would have changed the film entirely.
The cast in Total Recall is made up of some pretty solid players. Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel make up the core cast, with some great support characters played by Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, and John Cho. Getting back to Kate Beckinsale though… I have to say, I think that woman is at her sexiest when she looks angry, and she plays that card through two thirds of the film… giddyup!
Where Total Recall really shines though, is in it’s visual effects… so much to see. Everything from the robotic police force, to the hover car chase scenes is sharp and seamless. A lot of the technology is fairly grounded with foreseeable advances in our own near future. There’s a quick scene that involves interaction with a fridge… it was so simple, but totally genius and something I could easily see in the next 10 years. The cell phone tech is a little more abstract, but incredibly cool in concept. The only part I really had a problem with is the elevator chase sequence. It was somewhat unclear as to where everything was going, or coming from. it’s a very small issue, as it broke for a fairly cool scene. Visually, Total Recall is beautiful!
The scoring on Total Recall is equally impressive. Harry Gregson-Williams keeps the tempo fresh and exciting. With its current popularity, there’s even a little bit of dubstep thrown in the mix. It’s only a small taste, but it feels right at home within the setting of the film.
Total Recall is an excellent treatment, refreshing the original in every way. Colin Ferrell may not be Arnold, but he totally takes control of the role. Yes, Total Recall is a reboot to a classic 90s staple, and there are a ton of nods and similarities to the original, but it manages to keep everything fresh, fun and exciting! I picked up the remastered Blu Ray of the original and watched it between the two times I saw the remake and I have to say, I prefer the remake. The original will always have its place as an Arnie classic, but the remake is a superior film on all levels in my opinion!