Total Recall


Following on from seeing Dredd and several other remake / reboot movies over the last few months I decided I had to go and see the 2012 version of Total Recall. The Arnie version is practically comical now if you watch it back with one liners littered throughout the script, so when I saw this trailer and got the impression it was trying to take the concept a little more seriously it had me intrigued.


There was so much potential for a more serious Total Recall film than the 1990 original.  Messing with people’s heads about whether or not it was memory, choice, personality, soul, even asking existential questions about reality … it was all up for grabs. All of it, there could have been so much thrown in there to leave you asking lots of questions and create a classic.

In the end, it didn’t.

The initial pacing seemed reasonable but about half way to two thirds through the film it seemed to lose direction. I think that Wiseman, Wimmer etc were trying to go for a bit of a twist with the motives of the main characters and manipulations by other forces, but in the end they just confused any message they might have been trying to deliver. Instead of a roller coaster trip down the rabbit hole that was Quaid/Hauser’s mind and perception vs reality it became confused and derailed.

There were also several plot holes and things which just made me go “Really? Are you going to try and just gloss over that and expect me to go with it?” that I couldn’t get past. All in all the world building wasn’t great and as a result I couldn’t get into the film from an early stage.

Plot holes and my dislikes

The fall. This was my biggest bug bear. A giant super train which crosses the planet in 17 minutes by going almost direct between two points on the surface.

Seriously? I mean first of all this would mean they travel no less than 12000 km in just 17 minutes, or an average speed of 42000 km per hour. That is Mach speed 34, using back of a napkin maths, which is almost 50% faster than low orbit speeds. Yet people just merrily strap in like they are using a rollercoaster.

Furthermore if you ignore this, it passes near ish to the core of the planet. Which is a giant ball of molten metal. Yet somehow there is a great big man made tube going through it. Oh, and the mantle which is molten rock. You know, the stuff that volcanos spit out every now and then which basically melts and eats everything in its path. Suddenly I was reminded of another film where “Unobtainium” was used to create a drilling machine  impervious to such temperatures …

Then there was the “no-zone”. The characters enter an old london tube train which is pressurised to avoid presumably a toxic atmosphere, wearing gas masks within this tube train as well (so wait, why pressurise in the first place?), yet when the UFB forces crash through the windows everyone isn’t scrabbling for masks? Why? The world is devastated by chemical warfare, you should be melting or something!

The final scenes with Quaid/Hauser versus the synthetic on top of the Fall. I’m sorry, these are supposed to be robots built for combat yet he somehow takes them on in hand to hand combat? After being shot in the shoulder and having said synthetic crush that shoulder? If they are trying to make out that he is somehow more than human … leave it alone, Bladerunner has that one covered far far better. Of course the earlier set up element of giving him knowledge necessary to disable one at point blank is a little too convenient.

There was more but frankly that should illustrate how hard it was to buy into this film and its world building.



In the end I felt that it was all a little too Hollywood, plot threads tied off and various things cleaned up with a quick sweep but that just meant that it didn’t dwell at all on the questionable reality which Quaid/Hauser seems to never really worry too much about.


Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bokeem Woodbine. This should have been a well performed film, but it lacked feeling. I almost got the impression that Farrell was as unsure about the storyline as I was with his endless confused expressions.

With Bill Nighy making a token appearance I couldn’t shake the feeling that Kate was merely playing much the same part as in the Underworld films which undermined her performance, as reasonably solid as it was.

As for Jessica, well she could really have been in there playing the emotional element but particularly at the stand off scene with Bokeem this just felt flat.

Overall I almost felt that the synthetics were better than some of the actors, which is a sorry thing to say and perhaps unfair because they weren’t particularly bad either.

Visuals & Effects

I cannot deny that this film was very nicely shot, with great effects and some very cool science fiction stuff.

The transport helicopters were a personal favourite, they looked cool with a nice organic almost fish like feel to them. Oh and phones which are implanted in your hand? Yeah, that sounds awesome and when you throw in the ability to project onto any pane of glass by putting your hand on it is very funky (though, questionable “science” right there).

The cars did look a little too minority report to me, and I couldn’t help but have “… in the cube!” in my head whenever the elevator scenes were around.


If anything the sound scape of this film was struggling at points and could have done so much to help with the pacing. However instead the focus seems to have been purely on the script and effects in scenes between. In fact I have so little to say about this that the only way it could have been worse is if they had made parts inaudible or garbled.


As I mentioned before there was a lot of potential for this film to properly play on that perception vs reality aspect of the Quaid/Hauser character but it simply doesn’t. Even eXistenZ did a better job of messing with your head than this. What you get instead is an average action movie with some nice effects and so-so acting from a cast of big names. One for watching when it arrives on TV or renting the bluray if you are so inclined but don’t expect much of it.