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Total Recall (2012)- review

“Total Recall” (2012)
Directed by Len Wiseman
Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel
Running Time 118 Minutes, Rated PG-13
2.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

I keep having this dream where I’ve seen “Total Recall” before.  In my dream, this film’s special effects look kind of dated, it focuses on Mars and mutants, and some bulky Austrian was poorly annunciating one-liners like “see you at the party, Richter!”.  In my dream, this “Total Recall” was clearly better, it didn’t take itself so seriously, and most of all this “Total Recall” was a really fun ride.  

Turns out it was no dream, I was thinking of the Arnold Schwarzenegger original that Paul Verhoeven directed 22 years ago.  When I found out my wife had not seen the original it took me a few moments to subside from “Ahnold” type rage, show her this bloody classic, and remember that what this version has that the new one doesn’t is a sense of humor.  Verhoeven gave a wicked bloody hard R to the film, used Schwarzenegger’s braun and zingers ability, and best of all kept you guessing till the end with a story based on Philip K. Dick’s short “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”.  

This 2012 version directed by “Underworld” director Len Wiseman, who has his fine eye for choreographed action and a star in Colin Farrell who gets it, isn’t enough to keep this out of the unnecessary-remake bin. In this reboot: Colin Farrell plays the wanting-more-than-his-workerbee-existence Doug Quaid, who goes to Rekall, a company that implants memories of whatever your deepest fantasy can be.  Before Quaid’s super spy fantasy can take, he “recalls” that he actually is a super spy, and his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) is an agent of her own who then spends the rest of the film trying her best to kill Doug.  

On the run Doug hooks up with Melina (Jessica Biel), the girl from his literal dreams who fights for the resistance.  A resistance fighting for the impoverished Colony, one of the two habitable regions on a now ecologically damaged Earth, the other being The United Federation of Britain led by Chancellor Copenhagen (Bryan Cranston).  I liked that this different road taken from the original was emphasized, allowing for a few nice winks to its predecessor, such as a certain three-chested street walker, and a traveler stay being “two weeks”.

This Recall may be sleeker, and the action does have its moments. That action is wrongly used to supplement the is he/ isn’t he a good guy/ bad guy that’s so much more interesting.  And I’m just gonna say it- Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel on their own are red flags to me for a film being bad, but put the two together and I was wincing through the trailer.  They're not horrible actresses, even though Biel has 9 consecutive “rotten” films on rottentomatoes.com and Beckinsale (not coincidentally Wiseman’s wife)  has 9 out of last 10, but they’re not game changers like Colin Farrell.  Farrell has been in a great film (In Bruges) and been a big reason why it was great, and you can see his talent here really bringing lines to life like “Everyone seems to know me but me” but Beil and Beckinsale have never impacted a film for the better like that.  

Of course this is all my opinion, if you don’t recall.

If you don’t recall “this”.    


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