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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Total Recall (review)

Total Recall yellow light Colin Farrell

I’m “biast” (pro): the original is a guilty pleasure; love Colin Farrell

I’m “biast” (con): director Len Wiseman is a hack

I have read the source material (and I am indifferent about it)

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)


So we’re meant to believe that this Total Recall is not, in fact, a remake of the goofy kickass 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger film of the same name but, in fact, a ground-up reimagining from the same Philip K. Dick short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” that inspired that other film. Even though in all its major plot points — spoiler: droplets of nervous sweat! — this film is all but identical, even about stuff that does not appear in any shape or form, cannot even be inferred, from the story. (Spoiler: Bryan Cranston is the new Ronny Cox!) This is an “Original Film” production. *snort* Whatev. *snort* In actual fact, this is director Len Underworld Wiseman’s least hacktackular movie yet, which isn’t to say that it’s quality entertainment, but it is some solid B-grade processed-cheese-product movie junk food. It might have been more fun if, when regular schmoe Doug Quaid goes to memory-implantation brain-surgey theme park Rekall and says, “I’d like to go to Mars” — spoiler: no one goes to Mars! — there was room for Colin Farrell to be as funny as we know he can be (see: Seven Psychopaths). A cracking other option for Farrell, however, is what he gets to do here: play, in essence, dual roles, as both gentle sweetie Doug and badass secret agent Carl Hauser, his real identity that has been subsumed by implanted memories for nefarious and ridiculous science-fictional reasons. This future world of global eco disaster combined with resource-heavy tech on a planetary-engineering scale, which seems unlikely to be feasible when the human population has crashed so dramatically, and the scheme Quaid/Hauser finds himself in the middle of is emblematic of one of the worst crimes an SF story can commit: all the really interesting ideas happened before the slice of story time we see before us, or will come after. That’s frustrating, but also accidentally intriguing, too. Anyway, it’s a fantastic canvas for Farrell to show off how much fun a supremely talented actor can have playing the same guy in two wildly different ways.


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Total Recall (2012)
US/Can release: Aug 3 2012
UK/Ire release: Aug 22 2012

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated IRIW: I remember it wholesale
MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language
BBFC: rated 12A (contains moderate violence, brief nudity and one use of strong language)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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