Total Recall

Film , Action and adventure
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(17 user reviews)
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Colin Farrell in Total Recall

The first question, of course, is: Why? Why take a film that has barely aged a day since its release in 1990 and subject it to the CGI remake treatment? The second, equally pressing, question is: Who? What director worth his stripes would even attempt such a folly, and who could he persuade to be in it?

To be fair, ‘Total Recall’ isn’t the unmitigated disaster many had predicted. Its future world is nicely detailed, if deeply derivative (rain, neon, Chinese people on bikes), the action sequences occasionally spark, and the central conceit of an economically and socially divided Earth linked by a lift passing through the planet’s core is interesting enough to almost – almost – begin to justify the project.

But the positives end there. As Doug Quaid, the seemingly ordinary Joe who finds out he’s really a double-agent super spy, Colin Farrell manages to be even less convincing than Arnold Schwarzenegger. The women in his life, especially Kate Beckinsale in the badass Sharon Stone role, are beyond dull, while poor Bill Nighy is relegated to a few portentous lines before being unceremoniously knocked off.

But the real culprit here is director Len Wiseman. There’s no denying his eye for a surprising angle and an unusual location – there’s a chase sequence set in and around a series of thundering cuboid elevators that could have been truly special. But the editing is so confusing and the action so logic- and consequence-free that it swiftly becomes almost unwatchable. The big showcase finale, as Bryan Cranston leads his robot troops into battle, is crushingly tedious: lights flash, explosions blare, everyone yells and it’s nigh-on impossible to tell what’s going on. ‘Total Recall’ is Hollywood at its worst: pointless, witless, and so very unnecessary. 

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Wednesday August 29 2012
Duration: 118 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Paul Verhoeven, Len Wiseman
Screenwriter: Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Gary Goldman
Cast: Marshall Bell
Sharon Stone
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Michael Ironside
Rachel Ticotin
Ronny Cox
Colin Farrell
Bryan Cranston
Kate Beckinsale
Bill Nighy

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:4
LiveReviews|17
2 people listening
mcuttle
Tastemaker

Total Recall is one of my favourite movies of all time. Of course I'm talking about the 19 original starring Arnie, directed by Paul Verhoeven, and at the time the most expensive movie ever made. He also directed Robocop which is another classic I love from back in the day, and this was also remade. I thought I'd hate it, but they did enough things different with it to make it a film that stands up in its own right. Not so with Total Recall directed by Len Wiseman.


The plot is basically the same, that is a factory worker has dreams of a life far more exciting than his own and so goes off to a company called Rekall to have some memories implanted. Of course, things go wrong and he's sucked into a world of espionage where he plays a secret agent trying to save the world. Is it real, is it all a dream? Who knows? Well, in this movie you pretty much do know as they signpost things so heavily before they happen it's ridiculous. The movie is now set totally on Earth where workers travel through the core in a massive kind of shuttle to work in a Bladerunner style slum in Australia, and head back to the Federation of Great Britain - these being the only two inhabitable places on Earth after a massive disaster.


What's weird is the amount of things they've shoehorned in here to nod to the original, which only serves to remind us how much better the first one was. A three-boobed lady appears for no real reason. This was fine in the mutant enclosure on MARS but is totally weird on Earth. They've also done a retake on the "2 weeks" scene where Quaid wears a holographic disguise, but the 2 Weeks lady is in front of him just going through passport control, again seeking to remind you how great and surprising that original scene was! The movie is also covered in unnecessary lens flare. Why?


There are some positives. There's a great action scene around some horizontal and vertical elevators where they are escaping killer droids, and there's a super anti-gravity section scene when the shuttle travels through the Earth's core - some really good sci-fi ideas!


It's just a shame that the movie rides on the coat tails of the original - they would have been better off moving away from the story and concentrating on making something a bit more original.


Alan

So different from the original that it shouldn't be compared with it. Highly enjoyable and in places very imaginative.

Bad

Agree with the review. It's completely pointless - why even bother pretending it's a remake of the original movie, when all the good bits have been removed? Where are the mutants? My hopes were raised with the appearance of the triple-boobed woman, but it seems she was just a woman with three boobs! What happened to Mars? Why the American accents, if it all took place in a version of 'Britain' and Australia'? I'm sure I wasn't the only one watching who found Kate Beckinsale's hairdo really annoying - it just kept getting bigger and wavier and it kept getting into her eyes during fights. There was no real sense of purpose about anything - why was that big elevator such a threat to humanity? Was so disappointed that there was no creepy little psychic muppet guy, or any big red bug thing that Colin Farrell had to pull out of his nostril! The look of it was dull and monochrome. There was barely anything good about it. Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel are worth watching I suppose.

John

We Can Remember It For You Beckinsale. Exactly what I expected, expensive, brainless, flashy and engaging while it lasted. Job done. And Kate Beckinsale wasn't too hard on the eyes neither!

scrumpyjack

Enjoyable enough for me not to begrudge my £1.30, but serves mainly to demonstrate to film students that the 80's were the period for the REAL deal, blockbuster wise. Showed 2 19 year olds Verhoven's beauty before they went to see this. They LOVED it far more than this CGI fest. Still, this is still worth a cheap ticket...just don't "Get ready for a surprise" 6/10

Stephanie

Wow, Kate Beckinsale was a psycho bitch, loved her hammy action, moth perma open and high kicking fight scenes. Not a classic but brilliant while it lasts.

SPH

" isn’t the unmitigated disaster many had predicted.' ...but sure is close!!!

K. Flyer

Turned out to be better than I expected which is always a plus. Maybe it was us, but nods to other movies included, eg Blade Runner, I Robot, Star Wars and Bourne. As Simon C says leave the brain at the door and go be entertained. 7 / 10

Ian

It is a by the numbers action adventure. Those, like me, of a certain age will see very heavy influences in the look of the film to Blade Runner that other Philip K Dick short story made into a film. Not a patch on Minority Report either. It's ok, not as good as the original in my view and certainly a very long way behind Blade Runner. Overall I agree with the reviewer it is an ok, just, two star film.

Rob

Critic Schmitic, this film is brilliant. Its feast for the eyes if occasionally somewhat familiar. Colin Farrell is adorable and the action sequences thrilling, what a treat

Simon C

Found this a darn sight more entertaining than the bloated soulless mess with a saggy middle - which was The Avengers. Its prime leave your brain at the door and enjoy the ride Summer fare. Thankfully devoid of any Schwarzenegger style 'acting' turning it into an unintentional comedy.

scrumpyjack

ODEON, LEICESTER SQ. theater (RIP) original release. SENSATIONAL, and that's just the pre film credits!

Simon

Aaah, the time when studios actually still made action films for adults instead of watering everything down to be suitable for PG-13/12 audiences. One of Verhoeven's best films and a classic.

Simon

Aaah, the time when studios actually still made action films for adults instead of watering everything down to be suitable for PG-13/12 audiences. One of Verhoeven's best films and a classic.