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“Total Recall” Provides Action, Little Else
Posted by LaDale Anderson on Aug 8, 2012 - 8:20:11 PM

HOLLYWOOD—In 1990, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone starred in the sci-fi thriller “Total Recall” directed by Paul Verhoeven. It was full of substance and clever gadgets. Fast-forward to 2012 and now we have the remake of that classic starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale. I will admit, the 2012 remake of the picture is a high-octane thrill-ride from start to finish.  Once the action begins, it never lets up until the finale. But there's the problem: not much else happens beyond that.


The story follows Douglass Quaid (Farrell), a factory worker who is not happy with the way his life has turned out. He’s suffering from repeated nightmares where he envisions himself being someone else. Quaid lives in a tumultuous time period where the planet is at odds with two superpowers: The United Federation of Britain and The Colony.   Humans are at the mercy of these two government titans. But enough with the political overtones.  Quaid is tempted to visit Rekall, a super savvy technologically enhanced company that allows humans to experience their greatest fantasy. 


It is here that Quaid discovers he’s not who he really thinks he is. Upon returning home to tell his gorgeous wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) about the incident, he discovers that she is a secret agent out to destroy him.   There’s nothing like seeing a woman kick the crap out of guy. Beckinsale soaks up the screen as a seductive but evil beauty.  

Kate Beckinsale as the duplicitous Lori Quaid in "Total Recall."


For every villainess, there is a polar opposite. In this case, it's Melina (Jessica Biel), a rogue agent fighting against the Resistance and Douglass’ former flame. The chemistry is obvious between the two. One would expect more fireworks, though, once Quaid recalls memories from his past life.

From this point forward, the movie is an extended, explosive chase sequence with Lori and her boss, Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), tracking down Quaid to capture a code that he has embedded in his memories. Cranston does a dutiful job as the movie’s villain, but the climax isn’t as believable as one would expect. A little more intensity or ferocity would have given the audience what they were expecting.


The special effects in “Total Recall” are deft-defying; the freeway chase scene alone deserves several rewinds to bask in the glory of its intensity.  There are quite a few high-tech gadgets that make appearances in the picture that will have audiences buzzing. As a viewer, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush full of gunfire, explosions and fighting, “Total Recall” will be a blast. 


However, if you’re looking for a picture with a bit more substance, you may leave the theater wanting more. Farrell, Beckinsale, and Biel do a reasonable job with the material given to them, whereas Cranston falls short. Looking at his character on “Breaking Bad” would make any viewer wonder why a meatier villain wasn’t fleshed out for the high caliber actor.  That’s where the writing duties fail. The 2012 version of “Total Recall” does not out-maneuver its predecessor; however, it brings to light some great technology and an exciting action picture that is worth a watch. 


Cliffside Malibu




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