Total Recall REVIEW
Disappointingly, there are no Dick jokes we can make about this picture.
Release Date: 29 August 2012
12A | 118 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy
It takes some gall to make a compelling, funny, outrageous, enjoyably hokey and bombastic film from Philip K Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”. Unfortunately for Len Wiseman and his team, Paul Verhoeven and his team beat them to it by 22 years.
Despite all the talk of this new version of Total Recall having a different tone and more emotional exploration, it’s almost impossible to shake the memory of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox and the rest while watching Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston and their fellow cast members plod through this new trip into and through the mind of Douglas Quaid. Though there is some tweaked plotting (no trip to Mars) and there are a few tonal shifts (less mutant madness, and zero Johnny Cab, sadly), it just never comes across as quite as satisfying as Verhoeven’s effort.
Of course, the target audience is going to be people who haven’t seen the 1990 film, for whom the weight of comparison will not drop like a ton of bricks on their head as they watch Colin Farrell run around. So how does it stand on its own?
Well, it’s a perfectly workmanlike sci-fi action thriller. Wiseman knows how to orchestrate fights, chases and stunts, and here he’s got plenty of CG toys and big sets to play with, including an impressive (if implausible) giant elevator running between a prosperous but crowded United Federation Of Britain and a dirty, depressed Australia called The Colony. Plus he’s got the basic premise to unspool (bored worker Quaid visits a memory implant company hoping to have excitement plugged into his brain, only to discover he’s not who he thinks he is), with all the double-crossing wife intrigue and scheming overlord drama he could hope for. But it’s all so… average. And that’s despite legions of robo-troopers and a cameo from a three-breasted prostitute.
She’s part of the problem – there are so many little nods to the original that anyone with a passing awareness of it is reminded all too often of its memorable moments. And while the Verhoeven film had endlessly quotable dialogue that still enters geeky conversations to this day, you’d be hard pressed to recall much from this one.
Read our Total Recall Blu-ray review.
Watch the Total Recall trailer.
Watch a Total Recall featurette on the effects.
Watch a Total Recall featurette on the action.