Movie Review – Total Recall (extended edition) – 2012 – directed by Len Wiseman

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Action, Sci - fi
Tags: , , , , , ,

‘Total Recall’, one of my favourite Schwarzenegger films by one of my favourite directors.

‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’, one of my favourite short stories by Philip K. Dick.

‘Total Recall 2012’, a convoluted mess of ideas that feels like a more futuristic ‘Minority report’ clone (although saying that, Philip K.Dick did write the original story for Minority Report). At some times it really does feel like Len Wiseman was converting the wrong story. With so many writers on board ( I think there were 7) It is quite easy to see why the story doesn’t quite mesh into one perfectly paced piece of filmmaking.

But let’s forget for the rest of the review that it is based on any original story or that it is a remake of sorts. Let’s look at it as a new film.

In the near future the world has kind of destroyed itself and there are now only two livable land masses, Britain (the UFB) and Australia (the Colony). A lot of people who live in ‘The Colony’ must travel each day via ‘The fall’ (essentially an elevator that travels through the centre of the earth) to the ‘UFB’ to work in the factories.  Douglas Quaid (played by Colin Farrell) is one of these people.  One day, being bored with his life, Quaid decides he is going to visit the company Rekall (a company that can implant fake memories into your mind, making you believe that you have lived them.) Rekall employee Bob McClane (played by the great yet very random John Cho) convinces Quaid to go with the memories of a secret agent. all is going well until McClane discovers that Quaid already has memories of being a secret agent. All hell then breaks loose and thus starts 2 hours of Quaid running from everything.

I hope i didn’t lose you in that little summary. Even from that I hope you can see why I say it is convoluted. There is no good reason for ‘the fall’. It literally only seems to exist to make everything seem more futuristic and also allows an interesting environment for a shootout towards the end of the film. There is never an explanation (or at least I didn’t hear one) for why people have to travel to the ‘UFB’ (UFB stands for United Federation of Britain) to work. There is no good reason. I like the idea of mankind pretty much destroying the Earth but it could have been handled in a much better way.

It almost feels like the scriptwriters just sat round a table and shouted random ‘futuristic’ ideas at one another:

  • floating buildings
  • flying cars
  • dystopian world
  • holograms
  • robots
  • phone implants (implants in the hand I must say. What is the point or reason. Would it not be more useful to have an implant in the ear so you wouldn’t need you hands to use it? It is kind of cool that they get image if they place their hand on glass but then that relies on you having glass at hand. It would be far more useful an idea if they want image to then combine the implant with some visual implant to the eye. they seem to be able to do everything else so why not? as it stands I’d prefer to have an actual smart phone any day over the hand implanted one as it just seems more convenient and more user friendly.)
  • memory implantation

Combining a few of these ideas would have been fine but by putting all of them and more into the film kinda feels like the old saying ‘less is more’. There is no explanation for things such as the floating buildings. I get that there are so many people that they need to expand upwards but then it doesn’t really explain about how these buildings stay floating in place. They seem to be like they are for the chase sequences because it provides that instant feeling that Quaid may fall to his death. Although there is one point where he kind of falls and ends up in what seems to be modern-day Britain with normal cars and buildings. Again there is no explanation (this sequence does lead to one of the most random cameos of the film from Ethan Hawke).

It really does feel like they are trying to hard to cram everything in. As I’ve stated in the title this sis a review of the extended edition which clocks in at 130 minutes. Even with the extra 20 minutes it feels to cramped while also feeling over long for what is essentially a chase film along the lines of something like ‘Minority Report’. The problem we have here is, where films like ‘Minority Report’ try to explain how their technology works, ‘Total Recall 2012’ doesn’t seem that bothered.

It is really quite frustrating because there is a really fun chase flick hidden within its overlong run time.

The film is technically really well filmed (although there is an overuse of lens glare which now seems to be the ‘done thing’ after J.J Abrams technical powerhouse that was ‘Star Trek’). It is a really nice film to look at and some of the production design is truly brilliant. The acting is pretty good throughout with Colin Farrell being a great lead man. The supporting cast are all pretty good, especially Jessica Biel, whose character is reasonably well crafted. Kate Beckinsale isn’t bad although her accent change from American to British when she makes the change from good to evil was just ridiculous. (I know that American productions seem to love having British people playing the bad guys but still). The wonderful Bryan Cranston plays a great over the top character and seems to be enjoying himself.

This could have been a truly amazing re-imagining of a classic film, instead it feels like a well made cash-in. For a chase flick it’s not to bad but is overlong. It’s got a niceish setting, good acting, iffy script, and iffy story. I wanted to like this far more than I actually did. It’s worth a watch 7/10.

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