Directed by Len Wiseman
Believe it or not, Total Recall is actually based on a short science-fiction story which was written by the American writer Philip K. Dick. It may be a long time ago, but Philip K. Dick’s legacy lives on. That’s right folks. The original story, responsible for a 2012 movie version as well as the popular version in 1990 directed by Paul Verhoeven, aims to depict a realistically terrifying world in which the protagonist loses his sense of reality while suffering from temporary memory loss. Known for his work with the Underworld franchise, Len Wiseman’s signature elements in this remake unfortunately did not save it from becoming a total fail. The cast features some exciting names, but don’t let that fool you in watching Total Recall. This entire modern approach to Dick’s novel ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’ disappoints hugely and prevents a thorough comparison with the classic from 1990.
Like the Dutch director Verhoeven, Wiseman loosely bases the plot on the original work. Wiseman, however, focuses a great deal more on the political intrigue behind the story rather than sticking to the story’s familiar themes like paranoia. Also, certain parts have been removed and replaced. Take for instance Wiseman’s decision to leave out Douglas Quaid’s trip to Mars. Instead, the world has been split apart into two rival camps after a devastating world war. There is The United Federation of Britain (UFB) where people live the ideal life and there’s The Colony, located on what we nowadays call Australia.
If you aren’t familiar with the story, Wiseman’s version may appear as a relief in terms of your high expectations. Nevertheless, there is two sides to the same coin. People who do know the franchise (or critics in general) may find themselves watching another spin-off of movies like The Bourne Identity. Wiseman’s Total Recall offers not much new nor interesting stuff which proves to be the fatal factor in the end. The movie starts off with Quaid stumbling on his true identity by accident, but eventually we find out he is entangled in the devious plans of the ruthless Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Things get really complicated from there on: Total Recall is purely made for your entertainment; there is nothing special about it after all.
Surely Wiseman blew me away by all the futuristic ingenuity he offered through the world he depicted. I mean, how about a woman with three boobs?! What does one say to that? Anyway, clearly the overacting didn’t contribute much to the movie. Don’t get me wrong though. Total Recall features some of Hollywood’s finest such as Cranston who is popularly known for his work in drama series Breaking Bad. And how about Bill Nighy? I’d say two words: talent wasted. The only part that got me really excited was the various fighting scenes including Kate Beckinsale vs. Jessica Biel, but then Wiseman is a real pacifist as he does not choose to ‘stack up the bodies’ unlike Verhoeven.
Len Wiseman’s Total Recall is the stereotypical Hollywood production and even though it may be a weak one, it stays good entertainment for a night out with friends.