Total Recall (2012) Movie Review

“Total Recall” is a memory which has to be wiped out. Empty of meaning and emotions, without any wit or humour – it’s a never-ending action scene melted into a movie only by impressive high-tech surroundings. While there might be a few things to entertain your eyes, there’s nothing to keep you interested in a story itself. This blasphemous remake reminds us how often a recycled product fails to live up to its material.

Witty screenplay, lively characters, slowly rising tension and psychological twist makes you wonder and makes you care. With all its grotesque and black humour, with attention to the smallest details and always present psychological dilemma between dream and reality the “Total Recall” of the 90’s can’t be outshine by his vain and superficial twin brother of this century. Like syrup watered down too many times, this new movie loses all its taste right in the beginning.

Main character of “Total Recall” brought to life by Colin Farrell from another adaptation of a 70’s science fiction story, wakes up from a dream. His name is Douglas Quaid. He lives a boring and dreary life of a factory worker and dreaming is his only escape from this frustrating reality. And so he goes to a “Rekall”, company which promises to make his dreams come true. All the fun starts then workers notice something really unusual about Quaid and decide to pull out. However fragmental and tedious this introduction actually is, the worst is yet to come.

The original short story by Philip K. Dick “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” concentrates on Quaid’s loneliness and searching for meaning and purpose of his life, the first movie adaptation by Paul Verhoeven, called “Total Recall”, makes a tragic confusion between a dream and reality always present in Quaid’s mind while he bravely fights his enemies with naive goodness of heart, but the second adaptation and a remake of the first movie under the same name by Len Wiseman penetrates Quaid with fear and confusion and makes him run. All the time. Sometimes he’s alone, sometimes accompanied by his rediscovered lover Melina (Jessica Biel). But he’s always on the move. No time to think, no time to make a joke and no Mars.

In this adaptation we get a rebellion situated in a British colony of Australia. The adventurous trip straight through the Earth brings Quaid from home to his work. All his daily routine and life is changed once he visits “Rekall” and starts to figure out who he really is. All these essential details of the story are displayed so ungracefully and plainly, that viewers aren’t ready for the action which starts all too fast and gains speed drastically. Quaid’s dream come true is a real nightmare for them. It becomes too stressful to watch all these prolonged action scenes without any care for the characters involved.

Many original story details were sacrificed in order to bring in more action. Movie characters were highly damaged by it. There’s nothing even remotely similar to what Arnold Schwarzenegger’s well-aimed remarks and Sharon Stone’s coquettish attitude gave to the first “Total Recall”. Psychological effect of a movie suffered even more. From a rich psychological sci-fi thriller, which mind twisting plot could be compared with such a great now-a-days movies as “Inception” or “Shutter Island”, it was reduced to something really vain and disappointing.

Watered down too many times, based on a thin memory line of a lively and engaging story of a man searching for meaning and something higher in his life, this movie still tries to bring forth the same idea, so deeply conversed in the first adaptation “we are not who we are in our past – we are who we choose to be in the present”, but it fails at making any impact on the viewer. Philosophical problem of an identity needs way more intellectual space to build up and “Total Recall” doesn’t give enough time neither to think, nor to remember. You’ll run through the whole movie with Colin Farrell by your side and be really happy when it ends. Not because it ends the way you expected, but just because it finally ends.