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Total Recall (2012)

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Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall 2012.jpg
The film that killed off Jessica Biel's career, almost ruined Kate Beckinsale's career and Philip K. Dick wouldn't be happy with this...
Genre: Sci-fi
Directed By: Len Wiseman
Produced By: Neal H. Moritz
Toby Jaffe
Written By: Kurt Wimmer
Mark Bomback
Based On: "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick
Starring: Colin Farrell
Kate Beckinsale
Jessica Biel
Bryan Cranston
John Cho
Bill Nighy
Cinematography: Paul Cameron
Distributed By: Sony Pictures Releasing
Release Date: August 3, 2012
Runtime: 118 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $125 million
Box Office: $198.5 million

Total Recall is a 2012 American science fiction action film directed by Len Wiseman. The screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback was based on the 1990 film of the same name, which was inspired by the 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. The film stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, and Bill Nighy. Unlike the first film, the setting is on a dystopian Earth, not Mars, and has more political themes. The film was released in North America on August 3, 2012.


In need of a vacation from his ordinary life, factory worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) visits Rekall, a company that can turn dreams into real memories. Thinking that memories of life as a superspy are just the ticket, Quaid undergoes the procedure -- but it goes horribly wrong. Suddenly, Quaid is a hunted man. He teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) on a search to find the head of the underground resistance and take down the leader (Bryan Cranston) of the free world.

Bad Qualities

  1. This movie takes itself way too seriously. The original movie is much more comical and campy by comparison.
  2. Hit-and miss acting.
    • The worst performance in this movie comes from Jessica Biel.
  3. Very unfaithful to the source material. Both the novel and the 1990 classic take place on Mars, but this version is set on an Earth ravaged by a chemical warfare, where there are only two habitable territories/nations: the United Federation of Britain (UFB), located on the British Isles and northwestern Europe; and the Colony, spanning all Australia.
  4. Even though much of the movie takes place in Britain, and the villains are British, no one except for Lori (Beckinsale) speaks with a British accent.
  5. Unoriginal production designs, which is clearly (and rather poorly) inspired by other cyberpunk media (including other Philip K. Dick adaptations) such as Blade Runner, Minority Report, Deus Ex, and Ghost in the Shell.
  6. Due to the film under-performing at the box-office, it killed the careers of its cast and crew. For example:
    • Director Len Wiseman (the director of the 2003 film Underworld) hurt his career so badly that he didn't direct another film for a few years until he was announced directing the John Wick spin-off Ballerina.
    • Kate Beckinsale only made some low-budget movies due to the failure of this remake until she came back to make more theatrical movies in 2016.
    • Jessica Biel too only made roles in low-budget movies (such as David O. Russell's Accidental Love, The Truth About Emanuel and Shock and Awe), a animated movie called Spark and a TV series called The Sinner due to the failure of this remake with 2012's Hitchcock being her last major movie role to date.
    • One of its two screenwriters Kurt Wimmer hasn't written another mainstream film since 2015 with another remake Point Break.
  7. Bare-minimum ambiguity unlike the original movie.
  8. Uses way too much references to the original movie, which can leave viewers who haven‘t seen (or never heard of) that movie confused. On the other hand, it makes the people who watched the original wish they were watching that instead of this movie.
  9. Unintentionally hilarious and mind-numbingly dumb lines.
  10. Too much lens flares that can accidentally injure the audience.
  11. Blatant nepotism (Kate Beckinsale is Wiseman's wife) in the form of Lori having way too much screen time; in some scenes, her appearance downright make no sense.
  12. Feels more like a James Bond rip-off towards the end of the movie.
  13. The characters are bland and have no character development.
  14. Unlike the original movie, this remake was rated PG-13, while the original was rated R, meaning that the violence gets toned down.

Good Qualities

  1. The action scenes are still good.
  2. Great soundtrack of Harry Gregson-Williams.
  3. The design of the police robots are cool.
  4. The Director's Cut added some extra scenes that gave both Quaid and Melina some character development.


Total Recall was met with mixed reviews from critics and auidences, who received praise for its action sequences and acting, but the lack of humor, emotional subtlety, and character development drew criticism. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 31% based on 233 reviews, with an average rating of 5/10. The website's critical consensus states: "While it boasts some impressive action sequences, Total Recall lacks the intricate plotting, dry humor and fleshed out characters that made the original a sci-fi classic.". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 41 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". It even earning a Razzie Award nomination for Biel as Worst Supporting Actress (which she lost to Rihanna in Battleship).


  • Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender were both considered for the role of Quaid.
  • Kate Bosworth and Diane Kruger were both considered for the role of Lori.
  • Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, and Paula Patton were all considered for the role of Melina.
  • Eva Mendes was considered for the roles of both Lori and Melina.
  • Scarlett Johansson was offered the role of Melina, but turned it down due to her commitment on The Avengers.
  • Michael Ironside, who starred in the original, was offered a cameo but turned it down.
  • Paul Verhoeven, director of the original film, was displeased with the idea of the movie getting remade. After viewing the remake, he simply stated that it was "not good".


External Links