Total Recall: Movie Review

Total Recall: Movie Review

Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy
Director: Len Wiseman

It's the 2012 version of Total Recall...this time with no Arnie in sight.

Following the break out of a chemical Third World War which devastated the planet, the world is divided into two major colonies in the 21st Century - the United Federations of Britain and The Colonies.

The two ends of the Earth are joined by a giant gravity elevator, The Fall, which joins them via the Earth's core - and is used daily as a commute for the workers. 

Factory worker Douglas Quaid (Farell) leads a boring existence; he has a crummy job working on building robot synthetic police, lives in a bit of a slum and with a beautiful wife, Lori (Beckinsale).

Troubled by nightmares in which he appears to be a spy, Quaid decides to visit Rekall, a company which provides its clients with fake memories of a life they'd like to lead.

But when the trip to Rekall goes haywire, Quaid finds himself on the run.

This Total Recall remake ramps up the political aspects of the original and leaves aside any notion of anything other than mediocrity.

Granted, Wiseman's created a dark and greying dystopian future, with cityscapes which have hints of Blade Runner and slums proliferating his United Federal Britain and the Colonies.

But it's a CGI shade too far and gives the whole experience a distinct computer game feel, with sections playing out like the latest videogame - escape from Rekall, escape over rooftops, run from the synths, avoid your wife who's trying to shoot the hell out of you etc etc.

Still it is Len Wiseman after all - he who created the slow mo violence of the Underworld series, a trick he employs once again here as bullets fly right from the start.

Farrell acts better than Schwarzenegger (that's a given perhaps) but there is never any real edge to his continually confused and on the run Quaid throughout; Biel is a little more than just wet as his resistance co-fighter, Nighy is criminally underused as the leader of the insurgence, Matthias; Cranston manages to keep it the right side of evil rather than hamming it up as Cohaagen, a politico hell-bent on world domination and Beckinsale is a hard faced but yet pouty would be killer/wife from hell.

Shots of hordes of white synthetic robots toward the end recall Attack of the Clones; there's no trip to Mars as in the original and the whole thing has an inexorable sense of deja vu.

Yet occasionally, there are some pleasing visual touches- a flying car chase scene provides some thrills and breaks up the continual Farrell vs Beckinsale chases; plus some of the potential upgrades of technology deployed look totally plausible and just within our reach.

It's a shame because the 2012 version of Total Recall could have done with a little more of that spark of originality rather than trotting out predictably formulaic action sequences which make the whole film instantly forgettable and present a spectacle, lacking in real grandeur. Whereas the original film had iconic moments and ones which have lived on for good or for bad, this latest, really doesn't have anything which lingers long in the mind afterwards.

In summary, my question is a simple one - where do I sign up to get my memory wiped?



  1. Good review Darren. This one may have been fairly predictable in spots but at least it kept me glued to the screen with it’s fun, sci-fi look and action. Also, Beckinsale seemed like she was having a ball with this role and it’s probably the best I have seen from her so far.


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