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Total Recall, a Twisty Action Thriller

The action within Total Recall kicks off early and never stops in this twisty thriller that’s exciting to watch.  If you saw the original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger you are probably thinking same old same old, but don’t miss this remix it’s one of this summer’s best action packed sci-fi films.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) a bored factory worker who adds a part to Synthetic Policemen on an assembly line gets assured by fellow laborer that the vacation mind games of Total Rekall are safe. It’s a salon with an invention that turns dreams into memories.  He has been having some wild dreams lately involving being a spy and has become curious about finding more about it.

Thinking it’s time to take a chance on getting away from the everyday grind, he decides to try the mind altering game trip.  Douglas is offered a scenario of being a super-spy and he jumps at the chance. Something goes wrong with the mind-altering mechanism and Douglas awakes seeing the attendants in the Rekall salon getting shot by the federal police.  Caught up in the melee Douglas flees the scene with the police in pursuit.

Now on the run, Douglas must find someone to help him figure out whether any of the events are real.  Director Len Wiseman (Live Free, Die Hard and Underworld) makes the film a roller coaster ride with some very evil twists and turns leading up to an incredible climax.  Pushing his story along he waists no time getting Douglas into one sticky situation after another.  Just when you think the attacks have ended, up pops another critical battle that Douglas must win. Wiseman adds the element of suspense by keeping Douglas in the dark, not knowing what coming next.  It’s a great ploy for action junkies who crave surprise.

Colin Ferrell does a very good job of creating his intimidating character, a super-spy who knows all the tricks and how to use them.  His Douglas finally realizes the mission he is on and must face some very dangerous foes, including the synthetic police he helped to build.  Wiseman has him using futuristic weapons, exploding devices, repelling down tall buildings, speeding away from a pursuit of hover police cars, dropping down shafts, escaping from impossible odds all while working his way to the final goal.

Playing his gorgeous wife Lori, Kate Beckinsale goes from peaches and cream to terrorizing pursuer on her quest to stop her husband from destroying her world. Of course Beckinsale already knows how to play a kick-ass warrior, just check out her Underworld movies.  Using all the tricks and kicks she practiced in that series, she makes Lori a whirlwind that never stops churning.

Douglas gets help from Melina (Jessica Biel)

Adding to the support cast I’m pleasantly surprised at the power Jessica Biel puts into her character Melina. She’s a rebel fighter sent to save Douglas to help him perform a very important job.  Crafty, elusive and harder to grip than an electric eel, her Melina keeps up with even the best adversary.  Delightful to watch in a film like this, I’m sure Jessica will be getting more work in action thrillers.

The story gets its origin from a short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick.  Both Total Recalls (1990 and 2012) written for the screen were based on this same idea.  Although the premise of taking a vacation with your mind plays out in both, there are many differences between the two.  The most obvious are the location and objective in the newest model that has been changed to draw lovers of the original film and give them something different.

I love the set for this Total Recall as it shows how the Earth has been changed with only two countries being populated, each halfway around the world.  In an amazingly imaginative way a transporter travels from one country to the other through the center of the Earth.  Using some creative seamless CGI one would think that it’s the wave of the future.  The pursuit scenes show the Metropolis like futuristic city during a wild hover car chase, while the seedier side of town finds Lori and the synthetic police chasing Douglas through an urban ghetto.

Total Recall has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and language.  I really can’t agree whole heartedly with the MPAA rating because there are a lot of scenes of death and dismemberment and an awkward scene of nudity (try asking dad about this one).

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A wild action film with a lot of cool futuristic elements.

Additional Film Information:

  • Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale. Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho and Bill Nighy
  • Directed by: Director Len Wiseman
  • Written by: Ronald Shusett & Dan O’Bannon and Jon Povill and Kurt Wimmer
  • MPAA Rating: rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and language
  • Genre: Action, Thriller
  • Running Time: 1 hr 58 min
  • Opening Date: August 3, 2012
  • Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

About John Delia

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John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for 8 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the South Eastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1.

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