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Total Recall (2012)

- 118 mins - , ,

" If you’re looking for a movie experience that’s completely original and cutting edge then you’re likely to be disappointed. But if you can suspend your disbelief and accept the movie for what it is then you’ll enjoy a couple of hours of action-packed sci-fi entertainment. "


Starring: , , ,


Tagline: What is real?

Release Date: August 3, 2012


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 as he finds himself on the run from the police.


Considering that much of my youth was invested in films starring Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and Arnold Schwarzeneggar, I’m surprised at myself that I’ve never seen Arnie’s original Total Recall, nor have I read the Philip K. Dick short story (We Can Remember it for You Wholesale) that both films are based on.  Therefore, I have no frame of reference other than this film itself.  That’s good for the sake of this review because you’re getting a completely unbiased perspective.  However, if you’re a fan of the original and you want to know how this stacks up then I can’t help you.

What I can help you with is letting you know that Total Recallsuccessfully follows the formula of a typical popcorn-munchin’ Summer

Total Recall Colin

Does the way I hold my gun make my arms look big?

blockbuster.  The film finds its action comfort zone early and delivers two hours of non-stop fist fights, shoot outs, chase scenes (both on foot and in futuristic landspeeders), and explosions all amidst Quaid’s quest to find out who he is and what he’s supposed to do.  That’s pretty much it.  It’s fast and it’s loud.  You’ve got Colin Farrell duking it out with Kate Beckinsale, Kate trading kicks and punches with Jessica Biel, and Colin wrapping up the festivities with a Bryan Cranston smackdown.  All the bases are covered here.

Oh, and of course there’s the expected eye candy.  I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out how the production meetings went down:

“All right, so guys are gonna want to see Kate and Jessica beat each other up.  Got that covered.  But we have to convince their girlfriends to come with them.  Make sure Colin understands there will be an extended shirtless scene.  Oh, and tell him to start practicing his method of flexing while drinking coffee.”

The upside is this is a film that brings to surface my dormant teenage movie preferences.  Sometimes cool stunts, well-choreographed fights, and lots of things that go boom are enough to satisfy me, and in that regard Total Recall entertains.  It’s a 2-hour escape from reality that never slows down long enough to be boring.  You can argue that some of the action sequences are repetitive or that it’s stuff that you’ve seen before, and I won’t argue back.  My only response is, “Yeah, maybe, but cotton candy is cotton candy and I enjoy it every time I eat it.”

Total Recall Kate

Kate sends a message to her daughter's future suitors: back off.

Now the downside is that the film never steps out of its comfort zone.  The story was fresh to me, and thus kept my interest, but I couldn’t help but feel that the plot could’ve gone deeper.  There’s some suspense, but mostly the story is a side item that accompanies the action.

As for the acting, Colin obviously doesn’t fill Arnold’s frame, but that’s not what the role calls for.  He’s believable enough, but the real standout is Ms. Beckinsale.  This is her first role as a villain, and it’s obvious that she’s fully enjoying it.  I’ve always liked Kate in action roles, and she plays this with just the right combination of menace, sass, and sizzle.  And all of my readers who love Mr. Cranston will be happy to know that he chews the scenery in his limited screentime as if it’s a 3-day old steak.

If you’re looking for a movie experience that’s completely original and cutting edge then you’re likely to be disappointed.  But if you can suspend your disbelief and accept the movie for what it is then you’ll enjoy a couple of hours of action-packed sci-fi entertainment.  At least I did.


  • Colin Farrell previously appeared in Minority Report, which was also adapted from a Philip K. Dick short story, and had originally been developed as a sequel to the original film version of Total Recall.
  •  Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender were considered for the role of Quaid.
  • Kate Bosworth and Diane Kruger were considered for the role of Lori, and Eva Green, Rosario Dawson and Paula Patton were considered for the role of Melina. Eva Mendes was considered for both roles.
  • According to Ethan Hawke, his character has a lengthy monologue that lasts around five pages in the shooting script.  However, his scene is not in the final cut.  Works for me.  I have no interest in hearing a 5-page monologue by Ethan Hawke.
  • Kate Beckinsale is in Nothing But the Truth with David Schwimmer who is in All the Rage with Josh Brolin who is in Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language

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