Production year: 2012
Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrel, Kate Beckinsale,
Plot: A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall – a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led – goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.
This film was released elsewhere before it hit UK cinemas, so there was already quite a few people who have voiced their view of Wiseman’s remake of the 1990 Arnie flick of the same name. Many have slammed this film and why do you think that is? because its a remake of course. Now, I’m not a fan of remakes, especially if the original was up to scratch in the first place. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the latest incarnation of ‘Total Recall’, that’s not me supporting the fact it is a remake and of course this film has it’s flaws, but it is a decent film which is definitely worth a watch.
Now, in some cases of franchises/films being remade or rebooted the studio can become super lazy and make an exact copy of the original with added CGI. People have been calling this film ‘Total Ripoff’, many of these people have not actually seen this film and have come to this conclusion by watching the trailer alone. Sure, the general idea of the story is the same and the characters are the same, but for me, this is where the similarities end.
For a start the film does not involve Quaid (Colin Farrell) going to Mars, instead the film takes place on Earth. The locations used are the last two inhabitable places on Earth, The United Federation of Britain (UFB) and The Colony (Formerly Australia). Quaid lives in The Colony and travels to the UFB where he works in a factory building robots. He travels to the UFB via The Fall, which is a pod that makes it’s way through the Earths core from the Colony in seventeen minutes. This seems like a very interesting mode of transport which plays with gravity as it travels through the Earth’s core, parts of which are reminiscent of ‘Inception’. However the thing that does not make sense is how, later on in the film, Quiad and Melina are able to fight with the enemy as if they are travelling on a number 7 bus.
As a fan of the original i was pleased to see that Wiseman had included a few subtle nods to the original film. These act as a homage to the 1990 film and are easter-eggs for fanboys of Verhoeven’s ‘Total Recall’. These included the mutant with three breasts (although she was an inhabitant of Mars so I am not completely sure how she fits in this re-imagined universe) and there was also the old lady bomb who Arnie used as a disguise to get through border control on Mars. However this time the woman was not a bomb or a disguise either, but fans of the original would instantly recognise this scene.
Visually ‘Total Recall’ is out of this world, obviously CGI and effects in general have come on leaps and bounds since the original film twenty-two years ago and the film has definitely benefited from this. The United Federation of Britain is a feast for the eyes, you really want to be part of the film, and become an inhabitant of this futuristic landscape and take a look around. However, sadly you do not get the opportunity to do this, not only this but I cannot help but feel that the CGI graphics take over in this film. By this I mean I feel like the CGI takes away from the ‘Total Recall’ storyline, I just feel as if Wiseman took a little more effort improving the story and not on improving graphics, the film would be even better than it already is. I suppose if you look at the films that have become blockbusting hits over the past decade it is clear that most audiences nowadays go to be wowed visually than having to actually watch a story pan out and to totally understand what is going on on the screen.
Which brings me to another negative for this remake of ‘Total Recall’. The original was all about feeling and understanding how Douglas Quaid felt. Neither the audience, nor Quaid himself knew if he was dreaming or not. Sadly, I felt like this element of the film was removed in the remake. There is no real twist and basically every intricate element of the ‘dream’ world is spoon-fed to the audience. Why bother asking ‘What is real?’ if you are going to tell us anyway, for me this was a major letdown for Total Recall.
I am not taking anything away from the new look ‘Total Recall’ storyline that Wiseman and Co. have delivered to us. It is an interesting change to the story and like previously mentioned it is nice to see that a remake has not literally been a complete play-by-play of the original. Whilst it was nice to see a different vision of the story I still felt like it was not strong enough as the original, do not get me wrong, it had the potential to be, it just failed to deliver.
The cast is not fantastic and in many ways easily forgettable. I have never rated Collin Farrel as an actor but to be fair he impressed me. Like I say this may be just because the rest of the cast were so lacking. I felt that perhaps it was not the cast that let the film down but the script itself. I think Wiseman tries to take your attention away from this with the over the top use of CGI in the film. Sadly the film felt like one big game of cat and mouse, if the film was not just one big chase scene (which it is), then maybe the cast and the storyline could have been used to their full potential.
If this was a standalone, original film I would be quite impressed with it. However, to me the original will always be better, I know when reviewing this film I should not be comparing it to the original but it is near impossible. The script let the cast down, whilst I was slightly impressed by Colin Farrell’s performance I feel that perhaps if the studio toned down the CGI and spent more money improving the script, then the film would improve greatly overall. Although I may have moaned quite a bit during this review I still enjoyed watching this film. It is definitely worth going to watch but please check-out the original if you already haven’t. My only fear is that the majority of people nowadays are used to slick, glossy, CGI-filled films and will not appreciate the original enough.
Not far off the original – Not a ‘Total Reboot’ either – visually fantastic but sadly lacking in substance – 6.5/10
Catch The Cut’s review for the 1990 original here.
Total Recall (2012) is in cinemas now : watch the trailer below –