Total Recall (2012) Made in: USA, Canada Language: English Director: Len Wiseman Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine Year: 2012
Synopsis: In the distant future, biological warfare has devastated Earth. The only two territories where humanity can survive are the oppressive United Federation of Britain (western Europe), and The Colony (Australia).
Connected by a massive subterranean elevator called The Fall, residents of the dystopic Colony use it to travel to work at the somewhat-less-dystopic United Federation of Britain. A resistance movement under the mysterious Mattias (Bill Nighy) seeks to improve life in The Colony.
Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a factory worker married to Lori (Kate Beckinsale), who seems to be a great wife. However, Quaid feels a deep sense of dissatisfaction and wishes for some kind of escape.
Against the advice of his only friend, Harry (Bokeem Woodbine), Quaid secretly goes to a company called Rekall. At Rekall, you live out your wildest fantasies while the life you always wanted is implanted into your brain. The whole experience happens while you're sedated, the fantasy is experienced as a vivid dream, and the memories remain after you wake.
Quaid is about to live out a fantasy as a secret agent, but the facility is raided by armed police. Quaid escapes with the help of mysterious fighting skills that he never knew he had, and immediately finds himself on the run.
Lori turns out to be an intelligence operative ordered to kill him, and amidst all the confusion, Quaid starts realizing that instead of being a working-class nobody, he may actually be a secret agent after all!
Quaid learns that his whole life is a lie - he's a deep cover double agent who's memories have been altered, and that his actions have long lasting consequences on the existence of the Colony.
Or is it all really just a dream?
The Good: This remake of Total Recall features some really great production design and exciting action sequences. Kate Beckinsale is pretty fun to watch, as she is the combination of both the Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside characters from Paul Verhoeven's version.
The Bad: The original Total Recall, which starred Arnold Scharzenegger, was an over-the-top guilty pleasure that was hilarious, gross, and loads of stupid fun. This 21st Century attempt to make it into a serious action flick is completely misguided and unnecessary. It's the cinematic equivalent of trying to turn a McDonald's Happy Meal into French cuisine.
Colin Farrell and the rest of the cast do their best, but story-wise, the result is a soulless string of noisy action sequences and special effects that fail to make any sort of emotional connection with the viewer.
Who would like this movie: This is meant for fans of action movies, and fans of the original Total Recall. But director Len Wiseman, creatively speaking, paints himself into a corner with the second group.
Some of this remake's best moments involve references to the original. But if you've already seen the original, then you can already predict what's going to happen. And a story that's too predictable kills much of the fun.
The set design and visuals will clearly make you think of Ridley Scott's Bladerunner, and I almost found myself wanting to see a re-imagining of that movie instead. But the claustrophobic, rain-drenched, flying car-filled look has almost become a sci-fi cliché now.
Unfortunately, this is yet another example of faster pacing and slick digital effects failing to overcome a superior (and cheesier) original. Its lack of humor also did the story no favors. Simply replacing Colin Farrell with Will Ferrell might have yielded a better result.