Article Published: Aug. 9, 2012 | Modified: Aug. 9, 2012
“See you at the party, Richter!”
on, Cohaagen, you got what you want. Give those people air!”
“Get your ass to
“What about the guy you lobotomized? Did he get a
You know, I could spend a whole 90 minutes reciting Arnold Schwarzenegger
lines from 1990’s “Total Recall,” and it’d still be more fun than the 2012
Director Paul Verhoeven’s original sci-fi classic packs quite an
entertaining punch – an R-rated, ultra-violent, gore-infused, over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek,
thrillingly fun and surprisingly cerebral Arnold flick (as far as cerebral Arnold flicks
Director Les Wiseman’s (“Live Free or Die Hard”) take on the story, loosely
based on Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” is the neutered
Sitting comfortably in the confines of a safe PG-13 rating and
surrounded by slick — and rather decent — special effects, the 2012 effort lacks any semblance of
character, wit and originality.
Google “unnecessary remake,” and you’ll find this.
Wiseman’s “Total Recall” doesn’t just acknowledge that it’s based on another film – it blares it in
the audience’s face, shedding any identity of its own for more than a few references to the
original. While Wiseman has changed the setting a bit – nobody gets their ass to Mars – the
storyline follows all the same plot points of Verhoeven’s film, offering no surprises and,
subsequently, no thrills for anyone who’s seen the 1990 version.
For those who
haven’t, these plot points seem arbitrary at best, more like an afterthought to pass the time
between multiple high-tech chase scenes, some of which could have been exciting, had the film’s
writers crafted characters worth caring about.
The whole mind-bending “is it
real” concept takes the backseat, as Wiseman assaults the senses with special effects – pulled
liberally from other Philip K. Dick-based features, like “Blade Runner” and “I, Robot” – and
Like its protagonist, the film suffers from an identity
crisis and feels more like a vehicle for Wiseman’s wife, Kate Beckinsale (“Underworld”), who fills
the Sharon Stone role, only expanded to include more Kate Beckinsale.
actually about her character’s husband, Quaid (Colin Farrell, “In Bruges”), who works a dead-end job
in a dystopian future.
In the late 21st century, the Earth is rendered mostly
uninhabitable after some devastating chemical warfare, leaving only two safe zones in which humans
can survive. As such, living space has become the No. 1 commodity, creating a class struggle between
those who live in the country formerly known as Great Britain – now a haven for the privileged and
upper class – and the denizens of former Australia – now called “The Colony” and home to the
underprivileged, everyday joes.
Each day, workers commute to Britain via “The
Fall,” a sort of high-tech subway that short-cuts through the Earth’s core, where they slave away
the hours, building robots intended to eventually replace them.
dreams of something more and pays a visit to Rekall, a company that creates artificial memories for
those who can’t afford to make their own. Choosing a package that would have him remember an
adventure as a super-spy, Quaid begins the procedure, only to be interrupted by a squad of
well-armed police officers and their robot counterparts.
Apparently, his memory
had already been erased, prompting the authorities – led by the crooked Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan
Cranston, TV’s “Breaking Bad”) – to contain the situation before Quaid can discover his true
identity, something that might have to do with helping out a band of revolutionaries led by the
enigmatic (or so we’re told) Matthias (Bill Nighy, “Shaun of the Dead”).
knowing how, Quad singlehandedly disarms and kills most of his assailants, only to learn that his
wife, Lori (Beckinsale), is also in on it – and on the wrong side. Wearing a perpetual glower, she
relentlessly pursues him throughout the city – from rooftop chases to flying car chases to elevator
chases to giant subway chases – only for Quaid to wind up with Melina (Jessica Biel, “The
Illusionist”), a freedom fighter who fills him in on the situation.
But is this
real, or is it all part of Quaid’s memory implant? The movie doesn’t seem to care, content with
following the necessary plot points in order to feature another Becksinsale fight
She delivers, though, at least having some fun in her role, whereas Farrell
seems to have shed any semblance of charisma for his. It’s not entirely his fault, though, as his
character was written without any character. Schwarzenegger’s take on the role was not only bulked
up, but fleshed out, giving us a hero to root for and cheer on through his interplanetary
quest/rampage for the truth.
Verhoeven brought the 1980s action movie archetype
into the ’90s, proving that action needn’t always be mindless. In many ways, it’s a tent-pole film
for that decade-straddling era, representing a time when movies of its ilk had
Wiseman’s “Total Recall” is also indicative of an era – the
PG-13-ification of Hollywood, which boils down to marketing to the widest audience possible, never
minding the filmmaker’s vision or source material.
“Total Recall,” rated
PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and
language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 12-B or visit