Just in case you didn't know, there was once a book called 'We can remember it for you wholesale', which was made into a movie in 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was called Total Recall and was very popular. It was about a man called Douglas Quaid who pays to go on a virtual holiday as a spy to Mars, but as they're implanting the spy memory, they discover he's already a spy. Cue lots of running around on Mars, alien artefacts and literally eye popping special effects.
For this remake we fast forward (cough) twenty two years and now Colin Farrell is Quaid, Len Wiseman (Underworld, Die Hard 4) is directing and Kate Beckinsale is reprising the famous role of Quaid's wife. A mouth watering prospect with Farrell an action star who really can act. Wiseman really knows his action and we all know what Beckinsale can do in leather hotpants.
Visually Total Recall (2012) is stunning. It is one of the richest and deepest realised futuristic worlds I've ever seen. It pulls heavily on Blade Runner and Minority Report but carves a distinctive, grittier feel of its own. A superb backdrop for what turns out NOT to be a remake of the original movie but a re-imagining of Philip K. Dicks original story. There is no Mars here, no eye popping effects or ancient artifacts. Quaid now works in a factory building synthetic police, a job he commutes to across the planet in a shuttle that literally flies through the centre of the earth. But at night Quaid isn't sleeping, he dreams of being chased. When he goes to Recall the real memories are realised and mayhem ensues, practically non-stop to the final credits. Along the way Wiseman tips his hat to all the fan favourite moments of the original and to Minority Report and adds some very deft touches, including a hint of a future connection with James Bond.
Come the end my overriding sense was of confusion. The beginning was exposition heavy but then we barely had any story narrative at all to the end. I think the confusion came mostly from my expectation for what the movie would be over what it was. Something similar to what I felt walking out of Dark Knight Rises, I just didn't feel I had a grip on what happened. With Dark knight this was a problem resolved by watching it again. These two movies are the first times I've been aware of a movie taking me on a ride and not caring so much that I knew where I was going, because they knew I'd figure it out with subsequent viewings via one medium or another. That's smart modern movie making for my mind.
That said there are failings in Total Recall that time isn't going to fix. First up is the bad guy: Cohaagen, played by Bryan Cranston. He barely gets any screen time so his threat is mute. Matthias the rebel leader is played by Bill Nighy, but the impact was lost because, well, it was Bill Nighy. The cross world shuttle didn't have the gravitas that running around on Mars did. Throughout you get a sense this is very confident movie making that didn't quite fit into the two hour runtime. Except there was at least one major and fairly lengthy action sequence that seemed almost totally pointless. Maybe they ran out of edit time.
Total Recall is a movie I'll appreciate more with time. Unlike the superb Dark Knight Rises I suspect there is just too much here though that doesn't work for me to ever lose myself in a story well told. It felt more like a two hour trailer spotlighting the talents of Farrell, Beckinsale and Wiseman against a stunning CGI backdrop. Worth the admission for the visuals alone.
Hope this was helpful.
Always controversial remaking any movie, but one held in such high esteem amongst a tough fanbase (Swarzenegger fans and sci fi fans alike) Total recall was always going to be a tough sell.
On the positive you've got a great cast, top notch effects and a competent director.
Len Wiseman (Diehard 4) once again shows good action diection, but once again also lets CGI effects go too far.
The story, albeit taken away the mission to Mars is actually very similar to the original, and has some very good in jokes as a nod to the first version.
Farrell is a good lead, Beckinsale a more than competent kickass villain and Alba a decent sidekick come romance.
Taking the plot and placing it on a grubby futuristic earth setting takes little away from the daring escapes and frentic action, and allows the production team to create stylish sets reminiscent of classics like Blade runner.
Sadly as mentioned the constant CGI and over stylized action starts to wear thin towards the end and perhaps a less is more approach would have made more sense as the overall story is exciting (in both versions) and sells itself.
Action purists may find fault with the watered down approach to the violence (due to Hollywood's greed of making blockbusters PG13 or 12 certificate friendly) but that's not to say that the fights and chases are not brutally efficient, as proven in an excellent scene where Farrell takes down a bunch of pursuers in one stylish beat 'em up swoop.
So a mixed bag, but visually entertaining flick that is always going to draw comparison, but well worth a watch and maybe repeated viewings.
Despite low expectations and a lacklustre marketing campaign that made it look cheap, the 2012 remake of Total Recall turns out to be a surprisingly spectacular and initially enjoyable chase movie, albeit one that won't stop your interest from wandering. While it creates a more vividly layered world for its characters to chase through than the 1990 film (albeit one that owes a lot to both Blade Runner and Minority Report), it's main failing is that it's just a spectacular chase movie. Though well-staged, the action scenes lack the imagination and violence of Verhoeven's original, and his bitingly black satirical wit is missing as well. But at least initially Len Wiseman plays the character notes with a bit more nuance than you might expect, Colin Farrell being a more likely everyman figure than Arnie was, though a less compelling lead for material this thin.
The plot still owes little to Philip K. Dick's short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, tweaking and reworking the 1990 film instead, sometimes in interesting ways but never with the same kind of delirious breathless feeling of not quite knowing how far it would go next: this is more join the dots stuff, albeit executed to a higher standard than most summer would-be blockbusters. Yet aside from a zero gravity shootout courtesy of the plot's silliest deus ex machina, The Fall (a transport that goes through the centre of the Earth from Britain to Australia), none of the action scenes are original or memorable enough to stop it from getting a little bit dull to watch barely sketched characters shooting at other barely sketched characters for the dozenth time. Bryan Cranston and a blink-and-you'll-miss-him Bill Nighy are completely wasted, the latter trying an ill-advised American accent: despite the film's conceit being that after near-Apocalyptic wars only the wealthy United British Federation and the Australian Colony - a literal underclass with few rights taking up living space the wealthy have designs on - are left standing, the only British accent you'll hear is Kate Beckinsale's, and if you're hoping to hear some Strine you're out of luck since everyone talks American. It's watchable if you put your brain in neutral, but that's really not good enough when you're remaking a sci-fi film that was as unexpectedly smart as it was exhilaratingly entertaining.
The Blu-ray includes both the theatrical version and an extended director's cut which fills in a few more background details before the mayhem is unleashed and includes a cameo that was dropped from the shorter versionas well as a director's commentary on the director's cut, picture-in-picture featurettes and a second disc of standalone featurettes.
Based loosely on the short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick , the story has inspired 2 memorable movies to date. The first in 1990 with an in his prime Arnold Schwarzenegger, which was great fun. And now in 2012 with an equally in his prime Colin Farrell, which is a more gritty serious movie. The core of this film's story draws upon the aforementioned work of Philip K. Dick, with some memorable classic scenes if you've seen the 1990 version, but this update goes further & also draws on Dick's other futuristic influences for the movies style. It draws from the likes of Blade Runner & Minority Report, which gives the films world a very East meets West, steampunk look, along with a gritty feel to it.
Set in a distant dystopian future, the majority of the world is uninhabitable after wars & physical space is at it's limits. The worlds populace live in two areas, The United Federation of Britain (UK) where those with better life's live & the Colony (Australlia) where the less fortunate's find themselves. Colin Farrell (In Bruges) stars as Douglas Quaid, a factory worker who commutes from the colony to the UFB on a massive futuristic subway train called, the fall, that traverses under the planet. There he work's on the production line of putting together advanced police combat robots for the government at the time. Bored of his life he seeks some adventure, and enrolls into, Rekall, where his dreams can be chemically enhanced to become reality. But as he is about to live out his dream as a secret agent, all hell breaks loose, as he finds out he has a secret past & has been living a lie. But is this real, or is he living out his implanted dream in Rekall ?!
Overall i really enjoyed Total Recall, having loved the 1990 version i had to try & forget that, in order to enjoy this & indeed i did. The film's focus is very much on action, and in that instance it is unrelenting with barely being able to catch a breath inbetween CGI set pieces. Most of the twists bounced off me, albeit there were still a few surprises up it's sleeves. I particulary liked the way it kept us guessing all the way through as to if Quaid was experiencing Rekall or real life. There were some really cool new little ideas scatter shot through the proceedings, that you can't help but think, that's a cool idea. The setting & environment was greatly envisioned, although the divided colonies & train connecting them was a bit hard to swallow at first, i gradually came around to it. The main downside for me, was not having that empathy for the people they were trying to save or indeed a better insight into the resistance, at no point did they really introduce the people in any way for us to see how oppressed they are, and instead it was papered over with action sequences & the main focus on the love story between Farrell & Biel instead.
On the acting front, Colin Farrell was solid in both acting & body, as he pumped his guns at the camera & gave good performances on the whole when called upon i.e when the action died down a bit. Kate Beckinsale (Underworld) was without doubt the stand out performer, with the cut down baddie characters this time around she fully embodied the evil that Quaid was fighting against, as the loyal employee, who is relentless & ruthless on Quaid's trail. Jessica Biel (The A-Team), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Bokeem Woodbine (Ray ) & cameo from Ethan Hawke (Training Day) were all convincing in support, but it was certainly the Farrell v Bekinsale show.
In conclusion, Total Recall(2012) skates over the in depth humanity side of things, to bring you an adrenaline pumping ride with a great backdrop & underlying love story. If you can live with that compromise, it's a good film. Recommended.
NOTE: Be aware that the first 5 minutes of the film has intense strobe lighting, incase you suffer from epilepsy or bad migraines.
on 4 August 2015
Very good film. I watched and liked the original, and I watched and liked this remake just as much. Colin Farrell and Kate Bekinsale are both as watchable as ever..
Picture and audio quality is great - at least as far as a typical person like me (with a basic 42" HD TV and PS 3 bluray player) can tell.
Trying to watch the ultraviolet 'digital version' of the film is as fun as always. The UV code is in the box, so we're up and running. Get the laptop PC and log into the ultraviolet site and enter the code, which sends you to the sony entertainment site to ...... create an account, log in and enter the code again, which ..... redirects you to the Flixter site where you can create an account and log in and renter the code.again, which adds the film to your Flixter library. Apparently. So, put away the laptop, and back to the PS3 and TV. Look for the Flixter program for the PS3 and ..... the PS3 doesn't have Flixter. So I can't watch my UV version of my Sony film, authorised via the Sony entertainment site, on my Sony console. Great, so get the laptop PC, get the spare HDMI cable, attach the laptop to the TV, log into flixter and ..... its not there.
Every so often I try to watch the UV version of a film, then I remember why I don't. Ever get the feeling, they really really really really don't want you to be able to use those codes.
Thank goodness there was a bluray disc in the box too.
I love the first Total Recall film and put off watching this version due to the negative reviews and uncomplimentary comparisons with Paul Verhoeven’s original, but when I finally got around to watching this movie I was more than pleasantly surprised. Undoubtedly more dour and lacking the humour of its predecessor this is nevertheless an entertaining, action-packed, adrenalin-fuelled, visually spectacular SF movie which has at its core a conflict between an exploitative militaristic autocratic organisation and a vulnerable oppressed population whose underground resistance movement is in danger of being infiltrated by a clandestine operative. The post-apocalyptic scenario is intriguing and the special effects employed present an impressive representation of a dystopian future-world, in particular the ‘flying cars’ and cityscapes. Although there are ‘nods’ to the original movie this is a completely different take on Philip K Dick’s short story and which does not involve the planet Mars. It is what it is. I liked it.
I kept thinking about the original film while watching this one. To put it simply: Arnold was better than Colin Farrell. Kate Beckinsale in the expanded role is better than Sharon Stone, and I really love them both. Jessica Biel is better than anyone, if you don't believe me, ask her. What I really liked about this film is the updated special effects, down to the electronic notes on the refrigerator door. I love attention to detail.
The action was fast paced. The future looks similar to "The Fifth Element" but with more computer gizmos. If you have seen the original version, then you can miss the first few minutes of this one and be able to pick it up.
For some reason they eliminated all the fun aspects of going to Mars. That is why we watched the first film. Instead we get a film where we simply root for the terrorists. The terrorists are revolting against the Chancellor who wants to replace workers with synthetics, although this theme was poorly developed.
One of the aspects of both productions that I didn't like was the initial dream sequence. Had they eliminated that from both films, then the genius of the script would have been the ambiguity of reality vs. the recall machine.
The film included 3D holograms, Star Wars stormtroopers, Bill Nighy for a brief moment, and an inadvertent mention of an old film "Hauser's Memory."
What I didn't like about this film was all the action. It didn't have drama scenes outside of the beginning. No colorful characters. No time for a Biel/ Farrell love scene. It was like watching someone play a video game. Seriously, where was the writing? The clever lines? The complex character? The relationship? Any moron can write "Bang bang, run shoot, bang, chase, shoot, bang."
Parental Guide: F-Bomb, Nudity (Kaitlyn Leeb wearing a fake chest) no sex. 3 stars is pushing it. Can't wait for the video game.
on 8 March 2015
Complete and utter tripe!! Not a patch on the original dark gloomy sets Colin Farrell looks as lost in this role as his film character!
And kate bekinsale so annoying ! Typical Len wiseman showcasing his wife as some kick ass cookie! All she seems to do is shout and snarl (as in most of her films)! Storyline dire ! Everything about it is dire! Do not waste your money mine is going straight in the bin!! Won't even send it to the charity shop so some poor member of the public wastes their money on this trash!!!!!
The more you see remakes of Arnie films, the more you realise what a sense of humour they were made with. Total Recall is a remake with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel of the 1990 Schwarzenegger vehicle, itself based loosely on Philip K. Dick's We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. This film is visually stunning, has dramatically better action sequences, upgraded actors, and a substantially tighter premise. It's also utterly humourless, and the qualities of he actors show up the flatness of the characters. In trying to lift it from action romp to Blade Runner style dystopian SF, the remakers have done little more than expose the fact that there really isn't enough material in either Dick's short story or the 1990 original to make it worth the investment.
This is an exciting evening's viewing, and will probably be a lot better if you haven't seen the Schwarzenegger original, but it does not have enough in it to live in the imagination afterwards.
First the good points. There's a lot of Philip K Dick references scattered through this film. There are Blade Runner / Do Androids… style police 'synthetics', there is the glimmer suit from A Scanner Darkly, and a nicely Dickian geopolitical settlement, somewhat reminiscent of Radio Free Albemuth. Visually, the film takes in the gloss of Minority Report and also the dystopian underworld of Blade Runner. There is a realistic sheen to it which — with all the best will in the world — there never was in the 1990 version. As well as being faster and more extensive, the action sequences are supported by a real ability to feel pain (Arnie really never does more than wince). Farrell shows genuine dismay when killing, and Kate Beckinsale is a lot more plausible as a secret minder than Sharon Stone ever was.
The visuals really are extraordinary — the most compelling being, perhaps, the fleeting sight of Big Ben dwarfed among the dystopian London of The United British Federation. In a nice gesture to Mad Max, the only other place that has survived chemical apocalypse is Australia, now known as 'The Colony'. There are lots of visual gestures, such as Colin Farrell slumped over a grand piano like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, a tune unlocking a secret, like The Lady Vanishes, the kill code for synthetics, reminiscent of the film I, Robot, a Dark Star-like lift sequence, and a two-person chasm jump like the one in the original Star Wars.
Setting everything on Earth improves the coherence of the adventure, with terrorism impacting Quaid/Hauser right at the beginning.
The film's fundamental problem, though, is that is neither romp nor art-SF. It's not a romp because it lacks the essential humour of any Arnie movie, or, for contrast, The Fifth Element or Star Trek: The Voyage Home. It's not art-SF, though, because it just explains everything far too much. Given that the original film has been on TV hundreds of times, it's a fair bet that most people understand the Recall premise without needing it explained. It's explained anyway. Quaid/Hauser explains himself to himself three times. Once would have been enough. No times at all would have been better. In the stand-off scene, where Quaid/Hauser is confronted with the question of what is real, the explanation of the dilemma goes on far too long. Even people who haven't seen the original will recognise the dilemma from the Matrix. It should be done in about half the time it took in the original film. Instead, the scene is twice as long.
Ultimately, it comes off as Total Recall, with all the fun polished out.
on 19 August 2014
Forget about the plot or whether or not it lives up to the Arnie version just consider the following premise...
Apparently in the future only 2 areas are safe - England and Australia. Connecting these 2 areas is a tunnel that somehow makes it possible to travel through the centre of the earth - you know, that mass of spinning metal as hot as the surface of the sun. And even better news, it only takes 17 minutes! And why does our faithful hero make the journey everyday? So he can work on a production doing repetitive manual labour making robots. Robots that are so sophisticated and advanced that they are trusted to serve as the police force. Er so if thats the case, why not just have robots making robots instead of sending people to the other side of the world everyday?
It all looks very futuristic but the story is weak, the characters one dimensional and the action is tedious because you never really care.