Action Movie Fanatix Review: Total Recall (2012)

Total Recall 2012 banner

What Is Real?

Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy, John Cho, Will Yun Lee

Director: Len Wiseman

2012  |  118 Minutes  |  PG-13

“Everyone seems to know me but me.” – Hauser

I don’t think too many people had their hopes up too high when they heard a Total Recall remake was on the horizon.  Well, that means I wasn’t alone.  So, to say I went into my viewing of 2012’s Total Recall with low expectations would be an understatement.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), a factory worker, has a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) but dreams of a life as a super-spy.  Douglas visits Rekall, the company that can turn dreams into real memories.  The procedure goes horribly wrong and Douglas finds himself on the run from the police, his best friend and his wife.  Those memories may have been much more than just dreams…

Holy lens flare!!!  Good lord those things are distracting.  What is the point of them?  I can’t figure it out!  I kept finding myself distracted, scene after scene, by crazy unnecessary lens flares covering up what was actually going on in the movie.  I’ve seen them used in other movies but never this much.

When the lens flares aren’t distracting your view, the CGI is pretty phenomenal… to the point where I have no idea if any part of the movie was actually filmed on a real set.  I wouldn’t be shocked to find out everything was green screened.  This speaks well for the CGI but has a tendency to pull you out of the movie a bit since it never quite feels grounded.

The action is mostly a series of chases but they pair with the CGI very well.  It seems well thought out and plays perfectly with the fast pace of the overall movie.  These seem like simple compliments to give to an action movie but all too often we have all seen modern CGI fest action movies not know how to handle the action.

The acting is all pretty decent.  Nothing award winning but it beats a sharp stick in the eye.  Colin Farrell is no replacement for Arnold but considering the completely different direction of this Total Recall, he is a fine Douglas Quaid.  It’s not like Arnold acted the S#!T out of that part or anything.  The ladies (Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel) do their part and Bryan Cranston is as awesome as ever.

To compare this version of Total Recall to the 1990 version is like comparing apples to oranges.  The ’90 version had some humor, this version does not.  The ’90 version took place on Mars, this version does not.  The ’90 version had a wild sense of originality, this one does not.  But the ’90 version has pretty crappy VFX by today’s standards, this one is top notch… and it has lens flares!

Quite honestly the biggest problem with Total Recall is the name.  It might sound stupid but had the filmmakers chosen a different name and ever so slightly changed the plot the uproar over this movie might not have been so extreme.  People might have just watched the movie for what it was rather than automatically hating it because it wasn’t the original.  As it stands Total Recall (2012) feels more like iRobot, Minority Report or Underworld than Total Recall (1990).

Sure, Total Recall is completely devoid of any heart or soul.  It is a rip off of about a hundred other movies we have already seen, with added lens flare of course.  Maybe it was the low expectations but, dog gone it, I still enjoyed it.

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