Total Recall - Review



Me being a big Schwarzenegger fan, i could not believe that after the stupid "Conan" remake from the past year, that Hollywood yet again tries to do a remake of not only a great Schwarzenegger- but also a great sci-fi classic in general: 1990's "Total Recall" based on the short story "We can remember it for you wholesale" by Philip K. Dick.
Granted that it would be nice to see a fully realized vision of the future with nowaday's special effects and with Colin Farrell as the protagonist, but nobody needed or wanted "Total Recall" to be a "Total Remake".
The first trailer promised furious and great action scenes from director Len Wiseman who surprised many with his solid work on "Die Hard 4".
Can he surpass the odds and deliver (and surprise once more) or was that remake doomed right from the start?



The plot:
A factory worker, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), 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. (source: IMDb)

The remake's plot follows the story of the 1990 original fairly closely for the first half of the movie and completely throws it out of the window for the second half. This is mostly due to the stupid decision to entirely abandon the Mars-storyline from the movie. To be fair, it has to be said that even Paul Verhoeven's original movie was only a pretty loose adaptation of the Dick's short story. Although Mars played only a small role in the short story, it got enhanced to a huge storyline in the Schwarzenegger classic and made it stand out among all the other sci-fi actioners. Mars was a great place in the original that featured weird disfigured inhabitants and a weird kind of lifestyle.

Clearly Len Wiseman wanted to stand out on his own with his Earth-only remake of "Total Recall". Sadly this completely backfired due to the fact that the remake's own storyline and plotpoints are very thinly written and pretty much do nothing new or insteresting at all.

Along with the Mars plot, there also disappears the charme, the morbid humor and most importantly the protagonist's feel of paranoia throughout the entire movie. It all takes a backseat to a huge overdose of what comes over as being just a series of stacked together action- and chase sequences.

Iconic scenes from the original are often slightly changed but lack the impact they had in the original because they cannot shake of the feel to be thrown into the plot just for the sake of being a remake.


Mars was a cool place in the original. Why leave?!


Basically, the entire cast of the remake exists out of only three actors: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. Every other actor has barely any screentime.

Let's start with Colin Farrell. I thought that he was a very good choice for the role of Doug Quaid. It's nice to see a protagonist that differs from the action-hero role model from the 90's. He certainly got the looks and talent to suit the role. Sadly his acting got kept very low in this flick.

Kate Beckinsale is probably the most annoying actress in this movie. Let's be honest, Beckinsale is only in the movie because she is married with the director. It's the same case of what i like to call the "jovovich-w.s.anderson-syndrome" or "why-the-hell-is-that-blonde-annoying-bitch-from-temple-of-doom-in-that-movie----ah-i-get-it-syndrome".
Aside from that, she tends to ham up her role veeeeeery much with cheesy lines galore. Even more than Sharon Stone did in the original.

With that said, there comes the other female problem of the movie: Jessica Biel. There's barely anything to talk about here. Her throwaway performance as love interest Melina is so weak that it's barely visible. Her character has ZERO character, making her and Farrell's love relation extremely unbelivable. 'nuff said.

To sum up the acting, most of the time it feels pretty uninspired and not delivered with any kind of special charme like it was in the original with Arnold's accent or that certain kind of humor.
Additionally, dramatic scenes are disappointingly underplayed and make Arnold's acting seem almost Oscar worthy.


She clearly got the role only because of her talent....sure -.-


The action is a completely different affair. Len Wiseman once again shows that he is very talented in composing action scenes and making them exciting. Fight scenes are creatively choreographed and action is basically thrown at you at just about every minute.
The downside here is that the best things you will remember about the remake are going to be a series of action scenes, making the scenes-in-between feel like dull, boring filler and nothing else.
A possible atmosphere completely drowns in the overload of action.

The design of the futuristic city though is very imaginative and well executed.
Yet still, it would be unfair to compare the remake with the Arnold version due to past's technical limitations, but it's a visual marvel to look at futuristic London.
At times though, the movie might come off as a bit of effect-overloaded. The focus here is clearly put on the action and effects to distract from the wooden dialogue and other shortcomings.

At least the robo-cops look neat.

All in all, Len Wiseman's "Total Recall" is a very shallow remake that lacks the charme, morbid humor, good story and "heart" of the original. Its action scenes might be exciting but that's about all you will remember for a short time about this movie before sending it into mental oblivion.
Remakes should improve upon a good idea to make it into a better movie. Unfortunately Len Wiseman thought that slapping a bunch of effects and action into every scene possible would do the trick. 
This weak remake furthermore strengthens my theory that classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movies cannot be succesfully remade. It's simply not possible to remake a movie that mostly works thanks to the charme of the main protagonist ("jack-sparrow-syndrome").

"Total Recall (2012)" isn't a catastrophic action movie. Its art design, action, and effects are very well done. If you just want some spectacle-cinema you will maybe have your fun with it, but considering that it's a remake, it comes off as disappointingly uninspired and unoriginal.
It's one of those movies that make you just want to watch the original instead.

AND YES the movie has the three-breasted hooker in it...although the breasts are not exposed but you know...you can't always get what you want *sing* 



Final Verdict: 3 out of 10 



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