Review: Total Recall (2012)

Total Recall

  • Starring:  Colin Farrell (Alexander), Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), Jessica Biel (The A-Team), and more.
  • Directed by: Len Wiseman
  • Synopsis: “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.”
  • Rated: Rated PG-13 scifi action and violence, language, and brief nudity
  • Trailer:

Total Recall…remade, only this time without Arnold Schwarzenegger, now promises more updated visual effects, action, and mind-boggling twists and adventure. Director Len Wiseman (Underworld) directs his wife Kate Beckinsale, along with Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), and Bokeem Woodbine in this visually impressive remake attempt of the 1990 science fiction thriller of the same name.

The cast in this film performs admirably, though not at the level of unforgettable. Farrell stars as Douglas Quaid, a factory worker in a futuristic world. Not quite satisfied with his routine life, the idea of implanting super-spy memories into his mind sounds appealing. Things get crazy when the procedure goes wrong and the line between fact and fiction gets confusingly blurry. The rest of the cast add to the adventure in their respective roles. Their performances, however, give way to the impressive (albeit overused) visuals that define the majority of the appeal of this film.

A great visual presentation and cast does not automatically equate to a fantastic movie though (remember Sucker Punch?). With credit to more than six different writers, this edition of the reality-questioning story ends up losing its direction and never quite stands out as its own individual film. There were times when I found myself questioning again just exactly why the villains in the film were indeed considered evil and why I should care about Jessica Biel’s character other than to see her and Kate Beckinsale throw down. It introduces some new characters while also re-using some of the original’s characters as well (enter a new “iconic” 3-boobed prostitute).

While trying to create its own identity (separate from the original), it loses itself  as several elements of the original movie are paired with themes and plots that will remind viewers of other films (such as The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Fifth Element, Star Wars: Ep. II, and I, Robot). A hodge podge of plots and ideas mixed up with the original story causes distraction, confusion, and less relation to the characters as a whole.

Total Recall impresses with its computerized visuals but not by much more. Loaded with many different cliché action sequences, in more ways than one I guarantee “You’ve seen it all before.” While it is not a bad movie, I do recall (pardon the pun) watching far better science fiction movies…including, as Fogs’ Movie Reviews states, the original Total Recall.

Score:  3 out of 5 stars for Total Recall

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

T, The Focused Filmographer


  1. I wouldn’t give it three stars, but your review is pretty much spot-on. The visuals were impressive, but at the same time, everything was CG. For me, when the screen is just loaded with that many effects, it loses my attention. Everything looks fake. The action was pretty boring, too. Was there even any blood in the movie? At all?


    • Hey Sir Phobos!

      Good point on the blood. Yeah, you know. it’s the future, so blood evaporates as soon as it hits the air just like the lightsabers cauterize the wounds in Star Wars! 🙂 (i dunno, I got nothing!)haha.

      I wanted to give it less than 3 stars initially (I am NOT a Colin Farrell fan), but found several things that gave it that little bit of edge to be JUST above average. the phone-in-hand was a nice touch. The cinematography and acting were strong points for this film. You can see my rating system here:

      thank you for leaving a comment and reading. Much appreciated. Are you looking forward to Bourne Legacy?


      • Most of the enemies being stupid robots gave them a cop-out on the blood and PG-13 rating. I’m listening to the commentary on the original right now, and Arnold was laughing at the human shield part. Quite the difference.

        Yea, the hand-phone was pretty cool. I think I’ll pass on one, though.

        I am looking forward to the new Bourne. I really like Renner, and I’m not in the camp that finds it too much of a stretch to have other adventures going on in the Bourne world.


      • I know what you mean. Imagine having the hand-phone ring while you are washing dishes, or planting a garden, or…sitting on the toilet…(just sayin’) ha.

        I have hopes for Bourne, but those hopes are slowly diminishing as prelim reports are not in favor of it. I’m still going to go see it though.


  2. Another fine review, T. I’m closer to a 3.5 stars with the film. As I’ve said in other places, this is probably a more enjoyable experience for those who’ve not seen Verhoeven’s classic, and quite muscular, sci-fi auctioneer. Some people in the audience I was in actually clapped as the end credits came up. I think that half star difference had to be that I got a kick out of Colin’s and Kate’s performances. Those two are the reason I could watch and be somewhat entertained with it all.


    • I appreciate your compliment on my review my friend. I think you are right, it will be more enjoyable for those who haven’t seen the original. The performances were good and Kate is always great to watch. People actually clapped, huh? That’s great to hear for Wiseman’s sake.


  3. Thanks for the link, T. Appreciate that. 😀

    Would have been nice to see Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale throw down, as you note. 😀 LOL That would have been awesome. To bad that didnt come to pass. 😦

    You’re 100% right, they siphon so much of the good stuff away from the original in an attempt to be their won movie that it winds up being a crappier movie!

    Its too bad. It really is too bad. 😦


  4. I enjoyed what they did with this reboot for the most part. I think I liked it far better than you. I agree with you on many of your points, but none of the things that you dislike about the film bothered me that much. This movie ran alot like the original but far more exciting. I actually watched the original again before this came out, and I fell asleep on it. I loved the original Total Recall, but it didn’t really hold my attention as much 10+ yrs later…lol


  5. […] “Total Recall impresses with its computerized visuals but not by much more. Loaded with many different cliché action sequences, in more ways than one I guarantee “You’ve seen it all before.” While it is not a bad movie, I do recall (pardon the pun) watching far better science fiction movies…including, as Fogs’ Movie Reviews states, the original Total Recall.” – The Focused Filmographer […]


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