Total Recall

Film , Action and adventure
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(16 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

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

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


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.


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!


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


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.


" 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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.