Total Recall is a terrible remake, but it's a decent science-fiction film.
This post may have spoilers since everyone's had the chance to watch the original. There are no new twists in this film.
Total Recall (2012) is a remake of the 1990 film. Both are loosely based on the 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick.
The story is about Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), a factory worker in the future world where all land is destroyed except two continents. Austrailia, now called "The Colony," and Britain which is now the "United Federation of Britain" (UFB). The two are connected by an elevator, The Fall, that goes through the center of the Earth. The poor people work on one side of the Earth and commute to the other rich side. The political system is highly unstable. Quaid goes to Rekall to get memories of being an exciting seceret agent and discovers he really is a secret agent. The movie follows him on the run from the government as he tries to rebuild his memories.
The acting is solid. Kate Beckinsale plays Quaid's wife Lori and does a great job as the supportive wife and traitor. In this version she's a highly skilled fighter and agent and has a lot more to do. Jessica Biel plays the mysterious woman Melina who seems to know a lot about Quaid's past and they have great chemistry. Bryan Cranston plays Chancellor Cohaagen, the ruler of the UFB. Ruthless doesn't even begin to describe him. He gives every line with a snarl and a threat. Unfortunately, this film lacks the character development from the first film. But, that's just the beginning.
The key ingredients of a good remake is taking what was great about the original and expanding on it. Total Recall throws out ideas from the original and takes it in a completely different direction. That could be a good thing, but in this case it's not.
Mars is gone, but so is the theme of adventure and exploration. Its replaced with a yearning to be something more. The mutants are gone and replaced with the lower class colonists. This takes away the theme of bigotry and replaces it with a class society. Most of the plot twists were in the original film. That means there are few surprises. The ones left are decent though. Cohaagan's plan is interesting, but lacks the power of the first film because we don't care about any of the characters.
Director Len Wiseman has a Blade Runner style vision of the future and it works. The most amazing scenes are set on 'The Fall' and they're spectacular. The special effects and action scenes are amazing and powerful. Every now and then they throw in a reference to the first film (like the fat "Two Weeks" lady) and it feels forced. Frankly, the plot and concepts are original enough that it didn't have to be a remake at all. Take those elements out and you have a decent sci-fi film.
Overall, it's not a bad movie. It's pretty good in some places. The biggest flaw is it's trying to live up to the reputation of the first film. Which is too bad because it could have aimed higher. The original short story is brilliant. 2 out of 5 stars
Would you see this film? If you did what do you think of the remake? Have you seen the original?
[Image Source: rottentomatoes.com]
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