In this world of reboots and remakes, it is quite hard to walk into a movie without instantly comparing it to the original film it draws from, and I couldn’t help doing that with Total Recall. Especially since I had just watched the Arnie version just the weekend before.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think the 1990’s version is an absolute cheese-fest of one-liners (“Screw you Benny!!!”), and the acting is groan-worthy at times, but somehow it works, and the audience is drawn in for a fun ride that eventually ends up on Mars for the big twist and climax. Unfortunately the reboot doesn’t quite capture the silly charm of the Verhoeven “classic”.
The 2012 version takes itself very seriously, with amazing visuals that sport a realistic, gritty, lived in look, and you will have a hard time determining what are practical effects and what is a bunch of 1’s and 0’s. However, this is one of the few aspects of the movie that is superior to its predecessor. Slick CGI and cinematography can only carry a movie so far, and if you strip that away, you are left with a story with very little substance and protagonists that you really do not invest in.
Colin Farrell plays Doug Quaid this time round, with Kate Beckinsale standing in for Sharon Stone. The movie definitely ups the action quota, with Farrell and Beckinsale going toe to toe in some very physical combat. But in order to the M rating, the violence and gore has been toned down, with human henchmen being replaced in the film by synthetic policemen, doing their best impersonation of storm-troopers.
I believe the film-makers made another mis-step in the foot removing the Mars component from the movie, even more so when you consider all the free publicity they missed out on with the Curiosity Mars Rover landing coinciding with the movies launch. And losing the Martian aspect with its mutants removed one of the biggest twists in the movie, and its replacement just wasn’t as surprising.
This could have been a great remake, but as it is, it feels more like a candy coated shell with nothing inside. If you want a brainless action flick without the visceral violence of the original then feel free to check out Total Recall.
I give Total Recall 5 out of 10.