Review: Total Recall (2012)

Directed by: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel

Immediately prompting us to ask “Why?”, Len Wiseman’s remake of the 1990 sci-fi classic starring none other than Ah-nuld falls into the realm of the unnecessary almost effortlessly. Taking inspiration from the same Philip K. Dick short story entitled “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” 2012’s Total Recall embraces the same framework, revolving around factory worker Douglas Quaid as an ill-fated trip to “Rekall” to have a fantasy of his choosing implanted into his psyche goes horribly awry. Reclaiming the skill set of his mysterious alter ego, super-agent Carl Hauser, Doug ventures out to discover the truth behind his present plight and figure out exactly what’s real and what isn’t.

It’s truly a shame that a concept that remains so inherently captivating has to be tarnished by an overabundance of CGI-infused dystopian locales and run-of-the-mill action set pieces. Needless to say, the entire film shrouds its more thought-provoking origins behind a thick veneer of familiarity, both structurally and viscerally, obscuring the appeal the original film had without even batting an eyelash. Even more embarrassing still is how ridiculously forgettable just about every moment throughout the film is, all of which adds up to something that can be discarded from memory as soon as you exit the theater. Sure, the political and social turmoil at the core of Total Recall‘s primary source of conflict is enough to essentially carry it through to its end, however the issue itself is so sparingly utilized to even care about outside of Quaid’s quest to escape the death grip his true identity has on his life’s every detail.

Despite the best efforts of a relatively likable cast, Total Recall doesn’t have a leg to stand on. From cheap, ineffective jabs at humor to a sheer overabundance of glass (literally) shattering beneath the weight of the characters at its core, Wiseman and screenwriter Wimmer’s go with the source material is a straight-up flop in nearly every sense of the word. Sure, there’s a lot to look at and appreciate regarding its dystopian, exceedingly futuristic aesthetic, but when it gets down to brass tacks, it all seems familiar right down to the central story arc itself thanks to the simple fact that this production is merely another forced remake of disastrous proportions. For all its bells and whistles, Total Recall can’t even be considered a disappointment given how poorly it was marketed to begin with in conjunction with the public’s skepticism toward it, prompting one such as myself to question my motives in even satisfying my curiosity in the first place.


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