Total Recall

6 Overall Score
Visuals: 8/10
Plot: 3/10
Casting: 8/10

Action and casting are excellent

The content is unoriginal and the plot is poorly constructed

When I first saw the original Total Recall, I was amazed not only by the generous portions of heavy-duty action and violence, but the charm that the film had – and that’s all thanks to the acting of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now that I’ve even mentioned it, I’ve got lines such as “See you at the party Richter,” “Screw you Benny,” and “Come on Cohaagen, give deez people ehyar” stuck in my head once again (all spoken in Arnold’s classic Austro-American voice). In fact,Total Recall is a film that I now hold so highly that, with exception of movies such as Die Hard and Pulp Fiction, I may even consider it the crown champion comedic action film of all-time.

So, why remake it? That question, my friends, may never find a true answer. My answer, however can be stated in three letters: CGI. The picture of 2012′s reboot of the classic is great. With a 22-year age difference between the two films, computer effects help the cityscape look much more vast, the action feel much more intense and realistic, and the film be much more believable. Does that make it better than the original? That question can be answered with a definite “no.”

Even though the film looks good and is basically eye candy for fans of dark, run-and-jump action, it’s very much underwhelming. The sole reason that it’s such a disappointing film (and not as memorable as its predecessor) is because the plot is especially confusing and lacks depth. Director Len Wiseman pieces together the story of a man named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) who goes to a place called “Recall” to implant memories into his mind, but finds out he is actually a spy named Carl Hauser whose old memory was erased, and his execution falls a little bit short. The remake plays extremely close to the plot of the original; things like the scene with the three-breasted lady, the airport disguise scene, and the tricky “I’m you’re friend and you’re still back at Recall” scene are all there. Not a lot of the content feels original, and instead, rather predictable (I could name at least 10 sci-fi flicks that it pulls from), leaving the movie a very gimmicky, flashy ordeal. Total Recall feels recycled and, in result, even somewhat insubstantial.

Even though Farrell does an excellent job in the action hero role, he’s not quite as entertaining – or as stand-out-ish – as Schwarzenegger. Though he ceases to charm the audience too much, his character feels very real and personal. Apart from Farrell, Bryan Cranston (who we all know well as Breaking Bad’s Walter White), plays the villain, Cohaagen. Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel sport supporting roles; their characters are attachable and invigorating, just like I expected.

The action scenes are truly remarkable (especially a zero gravity scene that was so awesome it left me nearly gasping for air). Fights are crisp and spectacular, and car chases and elevator escapades are especially exhilarating. When the action dies down, however, the slower, more dramatic movement of the film is practically sleep-provoking. Total Recall is complex, but lacks depth and rather feels somewhat frivolous. However, though it suffers from poor plot exposition, the story in general is a very interesting one. If you’re able to put the weak execution of plot and story elements aside and enjoy the film sequences for what they are (fast, sleak action), you will probably like Total Recall.

It still bothers me that this film was remade (and probably will for years), but the 2012 version of Total Recall is still not a complete failure. The film’s casting is great, and thanks to its huge explosions, fights, and chases, there is still an adrenaline rush that may put you on the edge of your seat. The production and visuals are great, but when it comes to depth, creativity, and charming appeal, this film falls short. It just simply cannot compete with the original. Comparable to 2009′s Terminator SalvationTotal Recall lives up to modern action standards, but will definitely not be a classic.


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Author: Tim Dodderidge View all posts by
I'm a student at the University of Kansas hoping to major in journalism. I love Christopher Nolan films, eating at Taco Bell, and playing indoor soccer. I also like to watch How I Met Your Mother and enjoy writing poetry.

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