Review: Total Recall (2012)

Total Recall.

I never saw the original with Arnold from 1990 but this remake of the classic caught my eye. Colin Farrell stars in this version, as mild-mannered Douglas Quaid. Well, something starts to rattle Quaid as he has these nightmares featuring Jessica Biel’s character Melina. They seem so real that Quaid begins to explore the world of Rekall, which is a treatment which can give you artificial memories. Well, things get crazy as Quaid realizes that there’s more to his past than he can remember.

What works?

The world that they’ve created is pretty interesting and surprisingly believable. The Colony, formerly Australia, is a mash of all cultures and it’s apparent as huge glowing signs have both Russian and Chinese characters. The Colony is also fascinating that there are so many levels, floating above one and other. The chase scenes through these locales is extremely interesting, as the levels give these chases a new dynamic. The locations were also packed full of extras, which made the world seem actually lived in, as opposed to huge skylines with very little actual humans.

And while the plot is complicated, it’s never overly complicated. It’s manageable to follow but still enthralling with a few twists that keep you on your toes. The pacing is also pretty solid, giving you just enough time to breathe before throwing you back into the action. Speaking of action, the fight scenes are satisfying and Kate Beckinsale’s Lori is a vicious villain, providing some of the most intense fights in the movie. Bryan Cranston also proves to be an evil villain, as the President of the former Great Britain. He isn’t the physical force that Beckinsale is, but provides a nice overarching villain to look out for.

What doesn’t work?

While the movie does just about everything right, it still feels like it’s missing some heart. It reminds me a bit of films like Paycheck or I, Robot in tone but may be forgettable to most audiences. I appreciate the world that was created, based on a short story of Philip K. Dick, but the complexity of the world may be lost on some. I’m fascinated with the idea of a down and out world that turns to imaginary dreams to make their lives bearable. If that doesn’t sound interesting, you may already know you won’t like this film. But if you can see the big picture they’re painting, you should be able to appreciate it.

And while Beckinsale, Biel, and Cranston may all serve their purposes well, it might actually be Colin Farrell that’s the weakest link, only because he plays the same note the entire film: confused. What’s happening? Stuff explodes. I don’t know where I am. Car chase. What’s going on? It’s not an extremely three-dimensional role. But if you can be satisfied with a fun and thrilling 2-D adventure, this might do the trick.


I really liked Total Recall. Partly because I never experienced the original, so this idea was new to me and it’s a fascinating idea. I loved the world that they created and how elaborate the world seemed, even down to fliers hung on walls and every extra that walked by. The action was impressive and Kate Beckinsale proved again why she’s one of the top lady ass-kickers in the business today. Farrell is a little flat but the thrillride we follow him on is anything but that. If you are a fan of movies like Minority Report, Paycheck, or I, Robot, this reboot might be just up your alley. I had low expectations and it blew me away because of that. If you expect too much, you’ll likely be disappointed.


About adamryen

Entertainment. Gaming. Dreaming.
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