Total Recall (2012)
Reboots and remakes. They’re very popular in Hollywood these days, even if they aren’t always equally great.
Back in 1990, Paul Verhoeven made Total Recall, a movie based on a story by Philip K. Dick with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead as Douglas Quaid who wants to get a virtual memory implanted of being a spy to find out he’s actually a spy in the middle of a Martian revolution against Earth. With supporting roles of Michael Ironside and Sharon Stone, the movie quickly became a cult success.
It’s 22 years later and Sony saw the time fit for a remake. Paul Verhoeven got replaced by Underworld-director Len Wiseman who replaced Sharon Stone by his wife Kate Beckinsale (who got a ton more screentime!), Schwarzenegger by Colin Farrell, upped the sex appeal by including Jessica Biel, and moved the story out of space by placing it on Earth after chemical warfare devastated the remainder of the planet into two territories, the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (formerly Australia). Sounds as if little is left of the original movie? You’re right.
Wiseman kept some of the basics like the memory company Total Rekall being at the start of the “adventure” and some of the more memorable scenes (three-boobed woman, the customs clearance scene) but for the rest there’s little left of what we loved about the original. Farrell never comes close to giving the movie the body Schwarzennegger brought forth, he’s rather unconvincing in his role and there are too many conveniences to make the whole credible. Biel’s role is rather limited and the entire story about revolution seems to be little more than a reason for Quaid being hunted and showing off some nice chases.
Wiseman focuses on special effects and does it nicely, but never manages to capture the essence of what made the original so great. Schwarzenegger didn’t really understand what was going on and the audience went along with that feeling as he was one man looking for an explanation on what he’s gotten himself into. This is never the case in this remake. Farrell kicks ass the moment he gets out of the chair at Total Rekall and then goes from one chase after the other with little depth being added to the story.
Making things worse is the fact that Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside played two very different characters but in this remake both roles are combined into Kate Beckinsale’s character or Lori Quaid. We can imagine Wiseman likes giving his wife decent screentime, but not when it’s at the expense of the movie. With two of the leads of a movie failing, you really need the rest stepping up to make up for that, but this also never happens. Biel’s role is similarly uninteresting as was Rachel Ticotin’s original Melina, and the entire “revolution army” seems to be little more than a bunch of wannabe-terrorists that make you wonder how in hell they could pose any threat. The only good idea in the entire movie is “The Fall” but this is hardly enough to keep us interested. And the chases? Well, nothing we haven’t seen before.
This remake is far from great and only worth considering if you like mindless action and nice special effects.
Technically the Blu-ray comes with excellent image and sound and in the extras we get the extended version of the movie which has 20 minutes of additional footage including an alternate ending. Not that that ending is much better than the original. An audio commentary is of course also present and there’s also an option to watch the movie with additional background info provided by Wiseman.