Movie Review | Total Recall
Len Wiseman’s vision of Total Recall, the 2012 version, is more earthbound than Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 version, in more ways than one. How so? In Wiseman’s version, chemical warfare has reduced Earth to two outposts — The United Federation of Britain (in England) and The Colony (in Australia), linked by an underground railway type system called The Fall, where workers from The Colony commute to the richer factories of the Federation.
Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell), a colony worker, is happily married to Lori (Kate Beckinsale) but suffering from bad dreams. Bored of the routineness of his daily life, Quaid decides to try out a memory-fantasy service, Rekall, and soon discovers that his regular life isn’t really his own. For starters, he’s somehow got the skills of a secret agent, and Lori’s actually a police spy trying to kill him. Consider that grounds for divorce.
As Doug tries to unravel the truth, he becomes embroiled in a plot involving the Federation’s nasty dictator (Bryan Cranston), a rebel leader (Bill Nighy) and the rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) who populates his dreams.
Wiseman creates some energetic action sequences and puts a futuristic sheen to the standard “Blade Runner”-style dystopia. Farrell does the regular-guy thing better than Arnold Schwarzenegger ever did, and Beckinsale is quite good as a kick-ass villain.
What’s missing — besides the fact the movie never goes to Mars as the original did — is the loony, over-the-top style Verhoeven brought to the story. It’s still an excellent action thriller remake that surpasses the original many times over.