The big, blockbuster flicks usually slow down when the calendar flips to August. Instead of superhero sequels, we get remakes and movies that don’t exactly have audiences lining up or buying tickets in advance.
Total Recall is that movie. It’s disingenuously touted as a fresh version of the original short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick, but everyone knows it’s a remake of the hit 1990 movie.
And has it really been 22 years since Total Recall came out? Wow, two decades ago AH-nold Schwarzenegger starred in what some people consider a classic sci-fi flick.
In 2012 Total Recall, Colin Farrell steps into Schwarzenegger’s large shoes to play factory worker Douglas Quaid, a man whose vivid dreams feel like something that really happened to him. He decides to visit a place called Rekall, which promises to provide him some real memories of life as a spy.
But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid’s loyal, loving wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) unexpectedly turns against him and he’s suddenly on the run from the entire police force, and Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) seems to have a vendetta against him. Of course, Quaid has no idea why any of this is happening. Quaid meets Melina (Jessica Biel), a woman who claims to know something about Douglas’ past and that his real name is Houser.
Those who saw the first flick will be happy to know the alien woman with three “appendages” (for lack of a better word) still makes a brief appearance in this version. Since I haven’t seen the original, I can’t do a proper comparison, but I do know the Mars element has been completely removed from the remake. Everyone is on planet Earth, though there has been a global revolution and the world is down to basically two continents.
I wonder if the decent movie offers are drying up for Farrell. Total Recall marks his second remake movie in a row (he was in a remake of the 1980s horror flick Fright Night last year). Farrell has never exuded action movie hero for me, so Total Recall didn’t work too well for him. I personally enjoyed seeming him play off type in Horrible Bosses.
Beckinsale seems to have fun playing the butt-kicking bad girl-type in action movies and not relying on her beauty in boring rom-coms, so I have to give her some props for that. Biel and Beckinsale looked really similar to me, almost like sisters, so that was kind of distracting.
Director Len Wiseman, who just so happens to be Beckinsale’s husband who directed her in the first Underworld movie, places a heavy focus on CG special effects (such as a high-speed car chase with flying cars) that look good.
When a movie is named Total Recall, it’s bound to get some comments about being forgettable. I’ll avoid the obvious and mention that Total Recall feels very much like a movie designed to appeal to mostly male audiences. It’s action-packed, but lacking an engaging story.
Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy good action scenes, but I expected some psychological twists and turns or at least something that would confuse me a bit.
Unfortunately, that never happened. ••
Movie Grade: B-