When Fantasies Become Reality And Vice Versa – Total Recall (2012)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the classic dystopian action film, Total Recall.

Usually, I include Catie’s summary that applies to both films.  But this time, I tweaked it just a bit:

Set in a dystopian future (end of the 21st century), a factory worker named Douglas Quaid is haunted by dreams he can’t explain—he’s trapped, being chased, and he can’t get away. Ignoring his good friend’s warnings, he decides to check out Rekall.  Promising him any memories he wants, he chooses to be implanted with memories of being a secret agent.  There’s only one problem—none of the implanted fake memories can be true… and during his psycho polygraphic panel, the administrator discovers Quaid is not who he says he is.     

Before I begin, let me just say why I requested the remake.  Regardless of how ashamed I am to admit it, I usually choose the newer versions because I have not seen the originals.  However, this is not the case this time.  I’ve actually seen the 1990 film at least once.  So why did I request the remake?  Two words—Colin Farrell.

Yes, Colin Farrell is the exact same reason why I chose the remake last month when we covered Fright Night.  Clearly, I have a Colin Farrell addiction here…

But let’s get back to the movie…

If watching the remake of Total Recall taught me anything, I learned that I needed to rewatch the original.  My guy kept insisting that the two films, while somewhat similar, were still quite different.  Clearly, I don’t remember enough about the Schwarzenegger version; however, I do know this: if action is what you like, the 2012 release doesn’t disappoint.

Loosely based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, Total Recall (2012) takes place at the end of the 21st century.  Global chemical warfare destroyed the planet as we know it and only two territories remain:  The United Federation of Britain and The Colony.  The only transport between the two territories is a train that actually travels through the planet, known as “The Fall.”  Everything is peaceful between the two territories, except someone keeps bombing trains in the UFB, and “The Resistance” (a group of domestic terrorists from The Colony) is being blamed.

Workers travel every day from The Colony to UFB, the more developed of the two territories.  Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is not any different.  But one day after waking from the same nightmare (Quaid is trapped, being chased, and can’t get away… however he manages to help the mystery woman he is with—played by Jessica Biel—escape), he realizes he is a creature of habit… and he’s ready to shake things up a bit.

Against the advice of his best friend, Quaid decides to check out Rekall; after all, they promise to “remember it for you.”  All one has to do is tell Rekall his or her fantasy and they’ll make it a memory.  There’s only one catch—none of the desired fantasies can actually be true in one’s real life.   If the fantasized memories are indeed true, it can cause irreparable conflict and confusion.

Quaid agrees to Rekall’s policies, chooses to be a secret agent, sits down in the chair, and the administrator begins the psycho polygraphic panel.  There’s only one problem—Quaid is not who he says he is.  He’s not who he thinks he is.  The machine wouldn’t lie…  Soldiers storm the room and one by one Quaid fights them off.  He is definitely in a state of confusion; he has no idea what is going on or how he has the ability to kill these trained men.

In a state of panic, Quaid rushes home to find his beautiful wife (Lori, played by Kate Beckinsale) watching the local news—a terrorist has attacked and killed multiple soldiers at one of The Colony’s Rekall locations.  Quaid confides to her that it wasn’t a terrorist… it was him.

Lori can’t believe what she’s hearing and tries her best to console her husband.  She pulls him in for a loving hug, and holds on tight… too tight, squeezing tighter and tighter.  Turns out, she’s an officer of the UFB who was sent in undercover to play his wife.  One thing leads to another and the action of the film kicks into high gear.

The dystopian future is very interesting in the film.  Technology is obviously more advanced, indicated by the fact cell phones are implanted into the palms of one’s hands, giving “talk to the hand” new meaning.  And as one would expect, the world’s currency has evolved and now includes “Obama Bucks.”

And while the 2012 version is quite different story-wise from the 1990 flick, one thing’s the same—the three breasted woman.  I mean, how could they leave that out?

So how does the remake hold up?

One thing’s certain—Colin Farrell is much sexier as Quaid than Arnold Schwarznegger.  Two other hotties (Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender) were reportedly considered for the role, but I personally think the casting directors went with the right man for the job.

And let’s talk about the ladies for a minute… the two female leads in Total Recall (2012) are to today what Sharon Stone was to 1990.  Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are not only gorgeous and have a list of successful films on their resumes, but they are also well suited for action/adventure movies.

However, if anyone is looking for a remake of the story with an updated version of a trip to Mars, this may not be the movie for you.  But if non-stop action is what you like, this remake won’t disappoint.  As Catie suggested, the up-to-date special effects definitely make this film a better choice today… in my opinion.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Total Recall?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

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8 Responses to When Fantasies Become Reality And Vice Versa – Total Recall (2012)

  1. I SO prefer the original. I was surprised that there was no trip to Mars in the remake. These two movies are very different. I’ll always remember the gross, freaky scene in the original where they were on Mars and had no oxygen. If anyone wants further info, they can watch the movie. *shudders*.

    I had a little trouble following the remake. If I hadn’t seen the original, I would have probably been a little confused in places. Also, like I said on Catie’s blog, I feel like the scenes in newer movies are too dark and you can’t tell what’s going on.

    Clearly, a Colin Farrell fan would enjoy the new one because of him. I’m actually an Arnold fan. 🙂 I liked both movies, but the original is the hands down winner for me.

    • My guy was also disappointed Mars wasn’t included in the remake, Lauralynn. And I agree with you that scenes in movies today (and TV — specifically The Vampire Diaries) are too dark; it is VERY hard to tell what is going on. But I liked this one. However, I do need to go back and watch the original again… especially after you mentioned the Mars/no oxygen scene. I don’t remember it…

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. tomwisk says:

    Saw Arnold in the original, didn’t see remake. Book was better than both.

  3. Diana Beebe says:

    I haven’t seen the remake yet. I like Colin Farrell (so what am I waiting for?).

  4. Julie Glover says:

    I haven’t seen the remake. But it just keeps bothering me that it’s “Rekall.” The word is apparently that way in the original short story too (an acronym maybe?). Clearly, my OCD grammar self needs to take a chill pill. LOL. I do love a good action movie…

    • You aren’t alone, Julie. I had to look it up on multiple pages to make sure I wasn’t misspelling “Rekall.” I don’t’ like it either! Why title the movie “Total Recall,” yet spell the name of the organization as “Rekall” — makes no sense to me.

      If you like action, check this out. It’s pretty much non-stop.

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