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Review: Total Recall (2012)

Updated on August 7, 2012

Hollywood really seems to like this trend where they continue to remake original films. I, for one, go into these remakes with an open mind allowing myself to simply enjoy whatever I am about to see. Not only is this a remake of the 1990 film of the same name, but it is derived from the short story penned by Philip K. Dick. However, when a remake is made simply into a combination of over the top action sequences and superior special effects while overlooking the story, then that is where I have a problem. I've never considered walking out of the theater until this film. That should say a lot, and by no means does it fall on bad performances given by the actors. It is more from my frustration with the director and writer of the film. The original, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, had a coherent plot, plenty of humorous bits, and action that made it into a cult classic of sorts. While Len Wiseman's remake goes for a more serious tone and even changes the locale from Mars to a new Earth of sorts, all of which manages to completely lose the viewer in less then a half hour. That itself is quite the feat.

The film takes place in 2084 when Earth had been divided into two super powers, the United Federation of Britain and The Colony. People could travel between the two points using a huge elevator/train of sorts called The Fall. The world had been leveled essentially due to the devastation from World War 3. The plot follows Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) as he is at first shown to be a resistance fighter, however, it is only in his dreams. He wakes up to find himself next to his loving wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) although he feels like something in his life is missing. He goes to his dead end job as a factory worker and constantly sees advertisements of Rekall, which gives you the ability to live out a fantasy in the most intensely vivid way possible. Doug sees this as an opportunity to have something that is different from the same boring life that he had been living. When he gets there he wants to live a life similar to a Secret Agent, similarly to what he continues to have dreams about, and before the process gets underway troops come barging in to attempt to arrest him. His fight or flight reflexes kick in and he disposes of the troops easily only to retreat home. Lori grabs her by the neck and begins to attack him while explaining that she had no idea who he was six weeks ago and that Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) had her pretend to be his wife as he had new memories implanted in his mind to keep him controlled. Doug eventually gets away from Lori and continues to stay on the run while piecing together who he really is.

While on the run, Doug comes across a familiar face from his dreams in Melina (Jessica Biel). Melina attempts to help Doug recover memories of who he once was. Lori stays hot on their heels while continuously messing with Doug about who he really is. He has a hard time believing Melina when he is told that he was some great resistance fighter and when Cohaagen brings in familiar faces like his old friend from his job, it further makes him question what is real and what isn't. Melina decides it is time for Doug to come into contact with the resistance leader, Matthias (Bill Nighy), in order to unlock the mysteries of his brain. The importance of Doug is key to both the resistance and Cohaagen's synthetic troops as he alone can dictate who will win or lose in this inevitable war between the two sides.

"This is all just a bad trip, from my blue meth."
"This is all just a bad trip, from my blue meth."
1.5 stars out of 5
1.5 stars out of 5

Closing Comments

This film had tremendous special effects and well done fight scenes, but aside from that it was lacking in every regard. In my opinion, this is your typical Len Wiseman film. Pretty from the outside with plenty of action sequences, but overall a very shallow film. All of his films, despite Live Free and Die Hard, have been very straight laced serious films. In that note, Total Recall should not be a serious film. It is hard to make it an enthralling tale when it is taken so seriously, hell why do you think the original has gone on to become a cult classic. Also, his allegiance to his wife was on full display in this film. Kate Beckinsale played in the same role as Sharon Stone did in the original. Stone's character had a smaller role, while Beckinsale's character felt like the true villain of the film. Her character's motivations were never clear and it seemed at one point she wasn't going to be such a cold hearted woman only to turn it around completely and attempted to kill our heroes in one last hoorah. Now don't get me wrong, Beckinsale is a likable actress but had too big of a role in this film. Bryan Cranston's Coohagen should have gotten more screen time then she did. Instead, at times it felt like another one of Wiseman's Underworld films. Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel were serviceable in their roles but never did anything to really stand out, just like the rest of the film.


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    • Miller2232 profile image

      Sinclair Miller III 

      6 years ago from Florida

      This shouldn't have happened. No way could Colin Farrell perform the way Schwarzenegger performed in 1990.

    • Nickalooch profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      i know exactly what you mean batty lol

      im glad my review had inspired you to watch the movies. however if you had to watch one, id stick with the original.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 years ago from sunny Florida

      I have never seen the entire original (and have seen none of the remake). But, the original portion that I saw held my attention. I now will have to go back and watch it in its entirety. Then of course will try to struggle thru the remake. Your recapitulation of the story has made me want to check these out. So glad I came across this and read it.

    • rjbatty profile image


      6 years ago from Irvine

      The fundamental question I have, which doesn't really require a response because it's just rhetorical is this: How could a man be bored with his life if he had Kate Beckinsale as his wife? I wouldn't be thinking about to trips to anywhere other than the bedroom.


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