Josh Wilding Reviews: TOTAL RECALL

Released in UK cinemas today, Total Recall is a surprisingly solid remake which most definitely doesn't deserve some of the negative backlash it received on the other side of the pond. Hit the jump for my spoiler-free verdict on the Len Wiseman helmed film!

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By Josh Wilding - 8/29/2012

I've never watched the original Total Recall. There's no particular reason why, it's just one of those films that I haven't had chance to check out. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed Len Wiseman's remake so much, although even if you are one of the many fans of the Paul Verhoeven helmed 1990 classic, there's no reason why you can't still have some fun with this version. Despite the impressive team of Kurt Wimmer (Salt 2) and Mark Bomback (The Wolverine) being credited for the screenplay, there are unfortunately some instances of less than stellar dialogue. It's also far from the most intricate and clever examples of writing, and despite the fact that there are more than a few predictable and unconvincing moments scattered throughout, the story is still a solid one. A little more humour would have been nice, but there are actually enough fantastic sequences which more than make up for the few times it stumbles. Some of the characters are underwritten (what looked set to be a crucial role for Bill Nighy's 'Matthias' is boiled down to little more than a few minutes of mostly inconsequential screen time) but this doesn't matter too much when almost the entire film is from the perspective of one person.

That person is of course Colin Farrell's 'Douglas Quaid', and the actor does a great job with what he has to work with. As the anchor who holds Total Recall together, Farrell seems perfectly suited to the role, and is excellent in portraying a man who is in as complex and confusing a situation as 'Quaid' is. As you will have already seen from the trailers, there's more to Kate Beckinsale's 'Lori' than meets the eye, and the beautiful actress makes for a fine nemesis, even if she is a little too indestructible and Terminator-esque. Jessica Biel's 'Melina' isn't quite as impressive, but that's not entirely her fault as the relationship between her and Farrell's character isn't explored in quite enough depth to make it as convincing as it otherwise could have been. At first, it appears that Bryan Cranston won't have much of a role at all as the villainous 'Cohaagen', but the brilliant actor thankfully gets a lot of time in the third act to really show off his stuff (even if it isn't quite up there with his work on Breaking Bad). Bokeem Woodbine ('Harry') is a pleasant surprise, and actually takes part in one of THE best scenes in the film with Farrell and Biel despite some fairly unconvincing exchanges with the former earlier in the film.

From a visual standpoint, Total Recall is absolutely stunning. The world that Len Wiseman has created (almost all of which is CGI) is incredible and never fails to convince. Whether it's the glossier "United Federation of Britain" or the gritty and urban "Colony", both fictional locations feel alive and very, very real. This also applies to the synthetic police force who play a prominent role in the film, and the effects are in fact so impressive that it would be a crying shame not to see the remake nominated for the 'Academy Award for Best Visual Effects' next year. The action sequences are all extremely thrilling, while fight sequences are also well shot. Wiseman actually does a fantastic job all in all and with the right script, it's hard to imagine him not coming up with something VERY special in the future. However, Total Recall, while great fun and a visual spectacle, isn't quite that film. There's no real reason not to check out the remake, especially as it's easily one the better action flicks to be released this summer, but it never quite reaches the benchmark set this year by other superior blockbusters.

While it may not be the most essential of remakes, Total Recall is one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012 and a solid action/sc-fi blockbuster with great direction, an impressive cast and incredible special effects. Great fun from start to finish.



Click HERE to read my interview with Total Recall director Len Wiseman.








Total Recall is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police - controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world - Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.


STARRING:

Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid
Jessica Biel as Melina
Kate Beckinsale as Lori
Bill Nighy as Kuato
Bryan Cranston as Vilos Cohaagen
John Cho as McClane

RELEASE DATE: Out Now

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35 Comments
JayTopStix - 8/29/2012, 8:56 AM
FIRST! I love the remake.
Mrcool210 - 8/29/2012, 8:56 AM
ive been interested in this, i like collin ferrell, and i wonder if they make it more difficult to tell if its real or fake
DrDoom - 8/29/2012, 8:58 AM
Movie's awesome. Original sucks.
kingshnake - 8/29/2012, 8:59 AM
Good, fair reiew as always, may watch this now where preiously Empire's 2-star rating had put me off.
JayTopStix - 8/29/2012, 9:00 AM
^ They are both good, you know why? Because the story is good.
ChiefJudge - 8/29/2012, 9:05 AM
It's A piece of shit
xXkryptoniteXx - 8/29/2012, 9:11 AM
Buying it on Blu ray but not watching it in theaters. I want that great HD quality and surround sound experience at the comfort of my home, this well also be a great way for me to have my own take of it once the buzz is done.
GreenHalJordan - 8/29/2012, 9:14 AM
Havent seen it. Wanted to since it came out. I need to hurry!
SonOfStarKiller - 8/29/2012, 9:22 AM
@Xxkryptonitexx-

I hear you, bro. I've also held out on certain movies so I can experience them for the first time at home. Haven't seen Prometheus, Brave, or Total recall, but I will have all three on Blu-ray the day of release. Sometime it's nice to see something for the first time in the privacy of your own surroundings.
ZombieOverEasy - 8/29/2012, 9:26 AM
Movie was good. I got forced into seeing it (I planned on seeing it on DVD) in theaters. Enjoyed it. The majority of the haters haven't even seen it, bet money.

Good flick. Not the original, but it stands alone, IMO.
Avenged99 - 8/29/2012, 9:29 AM
no chiefjudge... a piece of shit, is a piece of shit... I can tell by the previews that this is a better movie than the original. just having someone other than Arnold Schwartzinheimer, makes it much better!!!
nailbiter111 - 8/29/2012, 9:29 AM
i'd give it 2 stars at best. it's very dull. the sets are nice, but the movie lacks the "fun" factor. Also, it's supposed to be meant to be more realistic and take itself seriously, but Cranston's character makes some choices at the end that are incredibly unrealistic, can't have it both ways.
thewonderer - 8/29/2012, 9:33 AM
Bryan Cranston is only reason to see this
jimpinto24 - 8/29/2012, 9:43 AM
Total Recall was a good movie, but not perfect at the same time! Great special affects, and I enjoyed the performance of Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, and Bryan Cranston. But there wasn't enough humor or unpredicable moments in the movie. I would give Total Recall a 7/10.
HeadPool420 - 8/29/2012, 10:05 AM
I wish some articles had a thumbs down to click! I just wasn't a fan of the remake.
Greengo - 8/29/2012, 10:07 AM
I liked it!
StrangeHero - 8/29/2012, 10:20 AM
solid movie with crazy effects. loved it.
Ha1frican - 8/29/2012, 10:21 AM
Liked it i felt like the ending (no spoilers) had a missed opportunity but other than that it was a great sci-fi film and better than i expected. I plan on getting it on BD
Maximus101 - 8/29/2012, 10:33 AM
I actually enjoyed it, it was none stop go go go throughout the movie. better then I thought it was going to be for sure.
mikesinuman - 8/29/2012, 11:12 AM
action pack, high tech chase scenes. far more better than the over rated killing movie maker christopher nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.^_^
tonytony - 8/29/2012, 11:15 AM
i might just see this i need a good sci fi movie to fill in between now and hobbit
novaprime - 8/29/2012, 11:24 AM
Total Recall was Amazing!! ILL love to see this director do a Comicbook Movie!! And Colin ferell Star in 1.. Itll be cool to see this director Do guardians of the Galaxy, or Maby a DC/WB Flash Movie,or Aquaman, and even A GREENLANTERN REBOOT..AND I ALSO WOULDNT MIND SEEING Colin FERREL cast AS HANK PYM IN THE NEXT ANTMAN MOVIE..itll be great and Even peter quill from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Mago - 8/29/2012, 11:50 AM
It was shit. nothing special
Armyshot - 8/29/2012, 12:09 PM
Great movie, Ferell was great, Beckinsale awesome, and Biel just as good. A different approach on Total Recall with some of the classic scenes updated with todays effects. Made for a great action/sci fi flick. Loved it
BIGBMH - 8/29/2012, 12:50 PM
Thanks for posting this. I agree with your score. I think a lot of reviewers jumped on the bashing bandwagon and didn't give this movie a chance.
calin88 - 8/29/2012, 1:00 PM
an enjoyable movie, Farrel was great as the lead
Ceejay - 8/29/2012, 1:17 PM
Soooo much better than the version with Arnie, this film is superior on every level. Makes the original look even worse than it did in the 90's (and boy did it look cheap and cheesy back then!) Had to see it twice, the action and visuals were mindblowing!
Greengo - 8/29/2012, 1:19 PM
wow people are pretty divided on this lol
Greengo - 8/29/2012, 1:21 PM
Is there a poll on this? If not there should be just a hated it/loved it no other options
CaptainObvious - 8/29/2012, 1:41 PM
I can sum this film up in two words: Bland and boring. This movie does nothing to improve on the original. The action is repetitive (Every single action scene is a chase scene.) The characters have no distinct personalities. There is also no sense of enjoyment or fun. It's just a joyless and passionless bore that deserved to bomb at the box-office.
GUNSMITH - 8/29/2012, 1:43 PM
IT WAS GOOD BUT IF YOU ASKED ME TO CHOOSE WICH MOVIE I LIKED BETTER I'D CHOOSE THE ORIGINAL BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL HAD MARS AND ALIENS AND MUTANTS AND SHIPS..THE NEW ONE HAD FLOATING CARS AND ROBOTS.THE OLD ONE LEFT YOU WITH THE QUESTION WAS IT REAL OR WAS IT A IMPLANT..THE NEW ONE BASICALLY IT WAS REAL.BUT THE NEW ONE WAS GOOD, EFFECTS WERE GREAT.
Kyos - 8/29/2012, 1:45 PM
Will rent it some day. The Arnie movie was delightfully crazy, this just looks bland in every way.
Rowsdower - 8/29/2012, 2:17 PM
Grif is right, it's terrible. Even objectively. And too similar to the original to justify its own existence.

Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.
Misterfan - 8/29/2012, 11:08 PM
man that movie sucked ass, it was horrible. it had good visual, effects, basically good eye candy, but some shit didn't make sense at all, like dealing with the Decompression. Gravity shift, bad bad bad safety car features in the future and Kate Bekinsale thinking she is still a Vampire ( but she was looking soooooo yummy). My thoughts though.
Kevinwillpeabodyproperties - 1/3/2013, 4:49 PM
I went pee without pausing it......

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