Total Recall” is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he’s got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life – real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police – controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world – Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.
Film informationGenre: Action, Thriller
Total Recall is an action-packed science fiction film starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale. I was around for the initial offering of Total Recall back in 1990 that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and was able to see this story told bigger and better. With this in mind, I was having a hard time figuring out why after watching it. After a second viewing, some of the problems became rather clear.
First of all, Collin Farrell is no Arnie. I love the Irish born Farrell, but he simply is not strong enough to carry a movie that is entirely character dependent. Total Recall is a movie that requires a superstar in the lead role to really take off properly. It needs an Expendables 2 type of action hero to make it work. Farrell is just not that type of actor. He comes across as more of a thinker than a fighter. Total Recall requires a fighter. Also, Schwarzenegger was a major superstar at the pinnacle of his popularity when his version was released. Collin Farrell has been in the background at best for his career with a few exceptions.
Another huge difference and problem for the modern version of Total Recall is the limitations it is given. The original had an R Rating and could truly take their foot and mash the gas. The modern version is PG and plays like it is PG. It is hard to remake a film and totally ease up on the thrills, spills and chills. The movie has several great action moments, but they still pale in comparison to the first.
For those that have not seen the original movie, however, these things may not matter as much. It is hard to enjoy a movie the same way when you already know the plot twists and turns going in, so I am willing to accept that. Despite the problems noted, the movie still has a good bit of things going for it.
Collin Farrell plays a menial worker that constructs robots in a post-apocalyptic earth. This worker, Douglas Quaid, is married to a gorgeous wife (the sexy Kate Beckinsale) but he always feels as though something is missing. The world he lives in is split between Australia (The Colony) and Britain (United Federation of Britain). The Colony is the slave labor and the big shots and all powerful government are located in GB.
Quaid dreams of Jessica Biel (who doesn’t?) and feels as though he may be living a life that he should not. He feels like something is missing. This takes us about half way through the movie and up to this point, the movie is intriguing. From here, however, the drama is virtually null and void. Something happens at this point that makes little sense to me as a movie watcher…the movie becomes predictable in every way.
Quaid decides to check out a company called Rekall that basically allows scrubs like him to create false memories. They can go on a pseudo vacation or live the life of a secret agent, among other things. Low and behold, Quaid was a former secret agent that has had his memory wiped. At this point, Quaid finds himself on the run from people, trying to determine if he is living the Rekall dream or seriously fighting for his life.
His beautiful wife as well as Jessica Biel show up and play odd roles. These two ladies are the highlight of the movie to me. I won’t spoil the fun but just say it is worth the price of admission.
While the movie falls flat in many ways, a good portion of that opinion is due to prior bias for the original. The visuals are incredible in the modern version and Kate and Jessica certainly keep things interesting. Collin does well enough for his part, but simply does not have the presence as an action hero to pull the role off in my view. Despite some shortcomings, it is still an enjoyable movie and well worth a day at the theater. This is even more so if you have never seen the original movie.