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Total Recall is a surprisingly good action flick

Total Recall - Theater Review
Release Date: 08/04/2012 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 4 Clacks

'Total Recall' sets itself apart from the 1990 original by delivering incredible visuals and non-stop action.

Is it too soon for a Total Recall remake? If we can reboot a whole Spider-Man franchise in less than ten years, I think not. While my partner-in-crime Michael Noble might not like the idea of remakes, I tend to agree with Annalee Newitz of, who equates them to the concept of folk tales. Regardless of your opinion on the idea of remakes, this Total Recall is a different story from the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger-led flick, in many ways a much better film visually and easily a better acted affair.

Colin Farrell replaces the Governator as Douglas Quaid, a working man who tries Rekall – a memory implant service – because he just feels like his life just isn’t as big and important as it is supposed to be; because having a wife like Lori (Kate Beckinsale) isn’t enough. When he plugs in a “Secret Agent” scenario, he encounters characters like girlfriend Melina (Jessica Biel), evil senior government baddie Cohaagan (Bryan Cranston) and the man who leads the resistance Matthias (Bill Nighy).

The question that we are supposed to be asking ourselves is “Is it Real, or is it Recall?” Thankfully the story doesn’t allow itself to get bogged down by that question, as many films that play out that same idea often do. There’s a great sequence at around the midpoint, and of course some stuff at the end, but other than that it is largely left to the background, allowing the film to focus on being a jaw-dropping action flick.

Most surprising was director Len Wiseman incredible eye for visuals. The opposing designs of the future, the bright and modern United Federation of Britain compared to the dark and rainy Colony were utterly brilliant. The “car” chase sequence defied expectations. The fight sequences played out in three dimensions. There was one moment where a fight turned into a foot-chase, and the camera pulled back to watch the two people move up and down through levels simultaneously. It was one of those times when you’re sitting in a theatre, begging to have a DVR remote to watch it again.

Fans of the original Total Recall should be on the look out for several easter eggs and references. It’s been several years since I’ve sat down and watched Arnold try to save Mars, but there were at least three bits that I caught, so there had to be more. Some were more obvious than others – those that can count to three should catch the most apparent without much trouble.


Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc

2 Responses to “Total Recall is a surprisingly good action flick”

August 3, 2012 at 11:18 AM

. . . . .

… freakin’ reboots …

… but … if done well – and as you stated, well enough to be a cohesive piece and “… a different story from the 1990 Arnold Swarchenegger-led flick, in many ways a much better film …” – then I’m all for it.

I’m still trying to shake off Planet Of The Apes with Marky Mark, y’unnerstan’ …

August 3, 2012 at 2:13 PM

I’m not as wedded to the original as some people who absolutely hated the movie at my screening are, so I enjoyed the whole visual experience. There were some great action set-pieces. The drawback is all the attention to action kind of left the story itself a bit skimpy, just a basic get from Point A to Point B to Point C to link the action, but it was all so well executed that I didn’t care. The leads are all smokin’ hot, and then you add Bryan Cranston on Bill Nighy into the mix (although this is the second glorified Nighy cameo this year!), and it’s just the perfect summer popcorn movie.

And Rise of the Planet of the Apes should help you forget all about the Tim Burton tragedy. A great re-imagining of the original story that has enough nods to the original but never really intrudes on it.

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