For a late-summer flick, don’t forget ‘Total Recall’

Douglas Quaid (Colin Far­rell) seated in the Mind Trip Chair in­side the Rekall Trip­ping Den.


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-

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