Total Recall (2012) Review “Open your mind”

Directed by Len Wiseman

Starring Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel

Open your mind” were the infamous words of mutant resistant leader Kuato from the 1990 cult classic Total Recall directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well that’s exactly what you need to do when watching the 2012 remake directed by Len Wiseman and starring Colin Farrell. It’s hard not to make comparisons with the original movie and that’s somewhat unfair as this retelling is actually quite good with a new take on the story, solid performances and great special effects.

Mars is now replaced with the United Federation of Britain (UFB). Global war has contaminated almost all of the earth with only the UFB and The Colony (a shanty town where the less well-off dwell) being inhabitable. Factory worker Douglas Quiad (Farrell) has a good job and an even hotter wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), however there is something missing from his life. Plagued by dreams of violence, federal police and the gorgeous Melina (Jessica Biel) Quiad visits Rekall, a company that implant your deepest desires as false memories into your brain. As in the original things don’t go quite to plan and Quiad is thrust into a world of double agents, resistance fighters, corrupt chancellors and global conspiracies. The action then follows Quiad in his quest to seek the truth of who he really is and if this is all just another false memory from Rekall.

Len Wiseman does a good job at retelling the short story ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’ by Philip K. Dick and the 1990 Total Recall screenplay by the late great Dan O’Bannon. Much of the premise is the same minus Mars and the mutants. The three-breasted prostitute makes a welcome return to please hardcore fans; however she is somewhat out of place without her fellow mutants. Gone is the plot of the evil Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen (this time played by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston) controlling Mars’ air. Instead he has control over the federal police and wants to flatten The Colony and kill all its inhabitants so he can build a new city to house the well-off citizens of the now over-crowded UFB.

Who could replace Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quiad? Colin Farrell seems to be the remake kid after the recent rehash of Tom Holland’s classic vampire tale Fright Night that was released last year and starred Farrell as the devilishly handsome Jerry Dandridge. Schwarzenegger’s boots are pretty big to fill but the beefed-up Farrell does a very good job at portraying the confused Quiad and his alter ego Hauser, ensuring that viewers feel for the character and cheer him on in his quest for the truth.

Cranston gives a solid performance as Cohaagen however he doesn’t quite have the evilness and cunning of the great Ronny Cox and really isn’t given much to do. Beckinsale on the other hand is given lots to do and her fight with her husband Quiad far outdoes the original Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone marital scrap. Her character Lori is a merge of the original’s Lori (Stone) and Cohaagen’s goon Richter (Michael Ironside). The fight scenes Lori has with Quiad and with Melina are highlights of the film and their action-filled flying car chase demonstrates the movie’s impressive special effects. This leads us nicely to Biel and her portrayal of Melina, Quiad/Hauser’s real-world lover. She gives an impressive performance and keeps up nicely with Beckinsale’s fighting expertise.

 Cranston as Vilos 2012 and Cox as Vilos 1990

All in all Total Recall is a gritty, fun, action packed retelling of a cult classic that unfortunately, like in this review, will be compared to its predecessor far too much. By giving the movie a 12A certificate it should reach a wider audience than the gory 18 cert 1990 classic and hopefully will be viewed as a retelling of the Philip K. Dick story as opposed to another Hollywood remake.

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