It’s the end of the 21st century and thanks to chemical warfare, most of the world has been destroyed. There are now only two inhabitable places on Earth, the United Federation of Britain and the “Colony.” The UFB is a wealthy land, tightly controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). The Colony, formerly Australia, is a slum-living populace, whom Cohaagen claims is the home of the Resistance, led by Resistance leader Matthias (Bill Nighy). These two lands are connected by “The Fall,” an inter-earth shuttle that cuts through the planet’s core.
Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) has a decent life, a job at a factory, and a beautiful wife who loves him. However, nightmares haunt him, and he has a nagging feeling that there’s something more to his life. A (poorly spelled) company, Rekall, offers the perfect solution to a vacation-starved workaholic: implanted memories of trips you never take, vivid mind-visions of adventures without leaving the comfort of the Rekall labs.
When Quaid sees an ad for Rekall, he decides a nice little mind trip might just be the break he needs. As the mind-implantation procedure starts, the workers realize something has gone terribly wrong. Immediately, federal police show up, Quaid fights them off with skills he never knew he had, and he becomes a hunted man from everyone that he once knew, trusted, and thought he loved. It’s ultimately up to him and a new but familiar friend to piece together his past and save the Colony from Cohaagen and his massive synthetic army.
The special effects and visuals in Total Recall (2012) are stunning. The design of the new technology, the cities, the Fall, and the environments in general are futuristically beautiful. Nods to other sci-fi faves are apparent throughout: the city slums of the Colony are reminiscent of those from Blade Runner, maniacal robotic peacekeepers chasing a MagLev car smacked of Will Smith’s I, Robot, with a little Minority Report thrown in for good measure. It shouldn’t surprise, because both Blade Runner and Minority Report were also written by Phillip K. Dick, the same author as Total Recall. If you are a fan of the original Total Recall, there are several scenes in the new movie that pay homage to it as well.
A standout in Total Recall is Kate Beckinsale (Underworld, The Aviator). Beckinsale plays Doug Quaid’s loving wife Lori—until she finds out that her “husband” has gone to Rekall. Lori becomes an unrelenting, determined UFB villain ready to kill, and she has some absolutely incredible fighting skills. Quaid, along with his new friend, Melina (Jessica Biel) end up spending most of the movie trying to get away from her and Cohaagen’s human and synthetic UFB agents.
Total Recall (2012) is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language. Once Quaid visits Rekall, it’s non-stop action and violence. Someone is constantly getting chased, punched, kicked, shot at, blown up, thrown in a headlock, or simply blown up. While the violence is high in this remake, there is quite a bit less blood compared to Ah-nold’s original back in 1990.
This 2012 reboot, directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld, Die Hard 4), seems much inspired by its 1990 predecessor. Total Recall (2012) is updated enough that it feels like a new movie . . . almost. In this rendition, everything takes place on Earth; there’s no trip to Mars, no alien mutations, no bloody human carnage, and no over-the-top facial distortions.
Compared to the Governator, Colin Farrell might be a little too serious in the lead role of Quaid. Don’t expect a barrage of humorous one-liners that you saw in the original movie. Farrell (Minority Report, Phone Booth), is a stronger actor, but unfortunately a bit underused. The same goes for Jessica Biel (Seventh Heaven, The A-Team). Ultimately, this remake is big on action and sparse on actual story.
This isn’t a family-friendly movie. If you enjoy sci-fi thrillers and are looking for some fantastic action sequences combined with more of a spy-type, modern style film (and can look past the bad language), this may be for you.
Total Recall is filled with graphic language and does have a frontal top nudity shot. As in the original movie, Quaid is seen walking through the red light district of town on his way to Rekall, when a lady opens up her coat revealing three-breasts and says, “You’re going to wish you had three hands.” There is also a brief scene with Lori in her underwear and a tank top. Quaid shares a beer at a bar with his friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine). As they are walking out, Harry jokes about how he needs to go find a place to throw up because he drank too much. The amount of graphic language in this movie is pretty extreme. There are at least 30 “s” words, several “h” and “a” words, one clear use of the “f” word, and Jesus’ and God’s name are abused several times. It just barely misses the R rating. A prominent theme throughout the movie is “What is real?” and finding meaning to your life through the confusion. Douglass Quaid was repeatedly asked, “What really matters?” At one point, Quaid had to make a decision with a gun, between a person that he thought was his best friend and a new person who had saved his life. There are a few large Buddha statues in Rekall, but except for that there are no traditional religious symbols or talk in the movie.
Featured image photo credits: Colin Farrell in Total Recall, Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
To learn more about author April Kruger, visit Cross Shadow Productions