MRR Review: "Total Recall"

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A remake of the 1990 sci-fi action film of the same name, starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Biel & Ethan Hawke. Like the original, this reboot is inspired by the famous short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. For factory worker Douglas Quaid (Farrell), the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man as he finds himself on the run from the police.
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Movie Review: "Total Recall"

Rating: PG-13
Length: 118 minutes
Release Date: Aug. 3, 2012
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Remakes are usually hit or miss. While some films do a fantastic job of expanding on the original and updating the story, other films seem almost sacrilegious for fans of the original. "Total Recall" manages to walk a fine line between the two sides, delivering a film that updates the original without alienating the fans of the Schwarzenegger film.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell, "S.W.A.T.") is the type of man people love to hate. Though he has a good job, a nice apartment and a beautiful wife, he just can't help wishing for something more. The film takes place in 2084, and viewers quickly learn that people can only live in certain areas because of toxins left behind after a chemical war. Quaid decides to visit a hidden part of the city, where he meets McClane (John Cho, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"). McClane gives Quaid the chance to live out his fantasies in a world where he's a secret agent, but it quickly becomes clear that McClane might just be giving Quaid a look at his real life.

Almost from the moment Quaid sits down and workers strap him into a machine that will connect him to that fantasy life, the film makes it clear that there is more to the story. Agents bust in to grab Quaid, and when he rushes home to his wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale, "Underworld"), he learns that she has a connection to the same agents. Viewers then meet Melina (Jessica Biel, "The A-Team") and learn that she might be the only one who can save him. As Quaid realizes that his fantasy life is his real life, viewers will eagerly want to see what happens to him next.

Fans of the original "Total Recall" will find that the remake includes many of the same elements they loved about the film. Director Wiseman puts in a few scenes that harken back to that film including a certain female character with more than the normal amount of muscles on her chest. The biggest change is that this film updates the story with new technology. The old film did a good job of creating a futuristic world with the limited special effects available at the time, but this film did a better job of pulling viewers into that world.

The acting in this film is far superior to the acting in the original. Farrell, who only appeared in a handful of American films in recent years, showed the viewers why so many people dubbed him the next great action star. Whether he's falling out of the sky from a falling car or dispensing villains with a gun, he breathes new life and excitement into a role that might feel a little dull.

Adding to his character is the fact that he has great chemistry with Beckinsale. The film introduces the two as a loving couple who share a long history together. When they kiss, flirt and tease each other, it's easy to believe them as a couple. The film rips that away by revealing Beckinsale's true nature and identity, and some might wish that the film had just a few more scenes of the two together. Beckinsale knows her way around an action film, and once she gets into her character, viewers will want to see more from her.

The character of Melina is essential in the film, but Biel doesn't do as well with the part as viewers might expect. Some viewers might even find themselves wishing Wiseman cast Beckinsale in the role of Melina because she does a flawless job of playing a woman who can handle anything life throws at her. While Biel does share chemistry with Farrell, she doesn't have as much chemistry with him as Beckinsale does.

"Total Recall" is an interesting sci-fi film, but it sometimes feels a little too long. Instead of trimming the script, the director and screenwriters spent too much time cramming too many elements into the film. The film plays like three different stories in one. The first story involves a man who wants something more out of life, the second is a thriller about what happens when someone lies, and the last part of the film plays like a classic sci-fi tale. If the director cut the middle of the film out, "Total Recall" might play as a much stronger film.

While it might have a few issues, "Total Recall" is one of the best sci-fi action and adventure films of the last few years. By sticking closely to the original screenplay, bringing in talented actors and updating the CGI and special effects, "Total Recall" will entertain fans of the original films and those who love sci-fi.

Rating: 3 out of 5