‘Total Recall': The Reviews Are In!

Fierce females and an impressive landscape give this remake a harder edge than the 1990 original, even if the reviews are mixed.

Len Wiseman’s 2012 take on “Total Recall,” a reboot of the 1990 mind-bendingly fun sci-fi flick, brings together a strong cast of actors, including Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. By all accounts, Wiseman’s flick takes on a more serious tone than the original action romp, ditching blood-bursting campiness in favor of a decidedly edgier world.

Farrell jumps into “Recall” as Douglas Quaid (played in 1990 by Arnold Schwarzenegger), a man looking to get some memories more exciting than his own through a form of technology called Rekall. Upon visiting a Rekall station, however, he learns that his mind has already been tampered with, and he’s actually a former secret agent. The reveal only confuses an already-confused Quaid even further, thrusting him into the thick of a rebellion (one he used to fight for) against an evil Bryan Cranston in a futuristic landscape complete with hovercrafts and three-breasted women .

The PG-13 film makes no bones about its blockbuster flashiness, but the results — according to the critics — are mixed. Keep reading for our roundup of “Total Recall” reviews.

The Twists and Tone
“Duplicity abounds, and the plot twists and turns quite satisfyingly, taking the time, of course, to add a wild fight scene between Farrell (very appealing as the confused Douglas) and Beckinsale (who goes a bit overboard as his relentlessly ferocious ’wife’). There’s even a cat fight between Biel and Beckinsale, one that raises the question: How does Beckinsale find the time to reapply lip gloss between smackdowns? None of this is taken too seriously, and that’s a good thing. Clever references pop up regarding the Arnie film, and a quick flash of currency showing Obama’s face on it gives the film a contemporary feel. There’s even a shoutout — sort of — to the Bay Area’s Fremont, where director Len Wiseman was born.” — Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News

The Visual Dream
“It’s a ’Blade Runner’ world of dark and rain, a ’Fifth Element’ future of stacked up ’levels’ of humanity and traffic. No doubt about it, there’s a lot to take in, visually, during the endless chase that runs Doug through skylights, awnings, crowded streets, subway cars and this vast shuttle that shoots people through the center of the Earth from Britain to Australia. So, kudos where they’re due — to production designer Patrick Tatopolous.” — Roger Moore, TheSouthern.com

The Girl Power
“One vast improvement here is that the women are stronger and fiercer than they were in the original; Rachel Ticotin’s Melina was the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold and Sharon Stone’s Lori was a sweetly passive housewife. Here, when Biel and Beckinsale square off against each other, it’s with all the skill and intensity of the men. Similarly, they don’t break a single bone as they scramble across rooftops and leap from one ridiculously perilous height after another.” — Christy Lemire, Associated Press

The Questions It Asks
“It’s a great subject for a movie because you could argue that, like the Farrell character, moviegoers are having fake memories planted in their brains when they watch movies. Questions of identity and determinism bang around in ’Total Recall,’ and the idea of not being able to trust your own brain is pretty scary.” — Chris Hewitt, TwinCities.com

The Bland Side
“A hot cast, vividly imagined futurescape, and exciting action sequences will appeal to a wide range of moviegoers looking for a punchy late summer blockbuster, but hardcore genre fans will likely be quite disappointed to find a film that trades vision and originality for something best described as bland and inoffensive … [Wiseman’s] post-apocalyptic vision is clear and consuming, and, lens flares aside, it looks and feels both tangible and possible. Once the audience comes to understand the state of the world in ’Total Recall,’ they’ll likely barely even miss Mars. Paired with some well-directed and choreographed action sequences, ’Total Recall’ works well enough as popcorn entertainment. But it’s a diversion that doesn’t do its source justice.” — Kate Erbland, BoxOffice.com

Check out everything we’ve got on “Total Recall.”

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