Spake: 'Total Recall' remake boring, unnecessary - East Valley Tribune: Movies

Movie Review Spake: 'Total Recall' remake boring, unnecessary

Grade: C+

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Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past seven years, reviewing movies on his website, Reach him at

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Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012 8:55 am | Updated: 7:20 pm, Sun Aug 19, 2012.

Does anyone else find it ironic that a production company named “Original Film” made the remake of “Total Recall?” This isn’t the first revamp of a beloved Arnold Schwarzenegger movie to come out recently. Just last year, James Momoa starred in a remake of “Conan the Barbarian,” which received poor reviews and box office totals. The new “Total Recall” suffers from many of the same problems as the new “Conan,” namely that neither film is very entertaining.

If you haven’t already seen the successful 1990 version, “Total Recall” sets itself in 2084, following the aftermath of World War III. The film’s protagonist is Douglas Quaid, this time portrayed by Colin Farrell. He maintains a steady job as a factory worker and has a beautiful, nurturing wife played by Kate Beckinsale. Douglas soon learns however, that his seemingly simple life is all a lie. His memories have been fabricated by the big, bad government to cover up that he’s a deadly spy gone rouge. His wife turns out to be an undercover agent who is now hell-bent on bringing her fake husband in. Douglass teams up with Jessica Biel’s Melina, a rebel who claims to know about his past.

Colin Farrell may be a better actor than Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Schwarzenegger was unmistakably having the time of his life in the original film. Since he was having so much fun, we couldn’t help but have fun with him. Farrell on the other hand, plays it strait for the most as a brooding, cookie cutter hero with lines plainer than bark on trees.

Just as Farrell is a bore, the same can be said about the rest of the movie. Director Len Wiseman, who has made some worthy action pictures like “Live Free or Die Hard,” takes a more serious tone along the lines of “Minority Report” or “The Bourne Identity.” Sometimes it works when a reimagining attempts to be darker and more grounded than its predecessors, like “Batman Begins” or “The Amazing Spider-Man.” This mostly stiff version of “Total Recall” though, makes the audience crave the humor and lightheartedness of the original.

The film isn’t entirely worthless. The performances are adequate, but not great. The sets and visuals are impressive, but not revolutionary. The action sequences are big and loud, but lacking any magnetism. Chiefly, this new “Total Recall” just isn’t necessary. Instead of updating the good Schwarzenegger pictures, perhaps the film industry should try to improve one of his lesser films like “Last Action Hero.”

Grade: C+

Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past seven years, reviewing movies on his website, Reach the reporter at


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