My Grade: B+
Total Recall is something or remake/different take on the 1990 pulp-classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (itself a loose adaptation of a short story by Philip K. Dick.) In the Governorator movie Douglas Quaid a lowly construction work feels he needs something more out life and goes to a company called "Rekall" that can implant the mind with false memories hoping to be given the memory of a vacation to Mars where he was a secret agent. Things take a twist when during the procedure it turns out he actually IS a secret agent working to liberate the people living on Mars who are oppressed by a evil corporation unsurprisingly headed by Ronnie Cox (your 80s/90s go-to guy for evil corporation CEOs.) A fight with his wife a trip to Mars later he finds out more about his alternate persona and ends up saving the planet and the movie ends with a top spinning only seeming to wobble before we fade to black.
Or, rather, a fade to WHITE suggesting that the events in the movie were a dream.
The 2012 "remake" takes many of the same ideas of Ahnold movie and puts a slightly different spin on them leaving us with more of a remake of the 1990 movie than a closer adaptation of the source material. In the 1990 movie, for the most part, it seems the life on Earth is somewhat normal Sci-Fi future stuff, most of the tension and action takes place on the planet Mars where colonies are ran and supported by businesses and a rebellion is taking place by rebels wanting freedom, more resources (like air) and better environmental domes to shield people from mutating radiation. In the 2012 version all of the events take place on Earth where devastating wars in the 21st century has left the entire planet -save the Europe sub-continent and Australia- uninhabitable. Europe is a fairly futuristic, up-beat, mega-city supported by the lower-class workers living on Australia. (The two areas are directly connected by an elevator -"The Fall"- which runs through the Earth's crust, mantle and outer core.) The elevator seems to serve as the only way between the two areas, a simple 17-minute long trip.
Much like the Martian rebels in the original movie the Australian populace proves to be a constant source of irritation for the weller-to-do people living in Europe and plans are put into motion wipe-out the Australian population using an army of robots. But is all what it seems?
Quaid is a lowly factory worker, bored with his life, who goes into Rekall wanting a spark of excitement in his life but soon finds out that his life isn't what it seems and ends up in the middle of a battle that has the lives of millions of people at stake.
The new movie aside from the changes of setting mostly is a note-for-note remake. There's many elements you'll see and instantly connect them to the original (if you've seen it) and expect them. Some characters are combined into one (Kate Beckinsale's character a combination of Sharon Stone (Quaid's faux wife) and Michael Ironside's (the right-hand-man of Ronnie Cox), some are eliminated (Quaid's somewhat side-kick of a cab driver) and some are thrown in for fan service (3-breasted woman.)
It's a fun remake for sure and it explores some interesting themes and probably has some of the better depictions of future-technology that I've seen in a while. (Smart-phones that interact with display walls and are embedded in the palm your hand, Maglev "flying" cars.)
But, for me, it seems to miss a "spark" of something to make it really
interesting. Like I was saying above I don't think the Mars element should have been removed because it was simply a more interesting setting than a rather stock futuristic city. And it struggles for me a bit in introducing the transportation system between the areas: The Fall. Where it seems a struggling humanity was able to create materials and then construct a device that can travel through the Earth
, a huge part of being 9000-degree hot molten rock. Not to mention the problems of pressure at that enormous depth and how incorrectly the "gravity flip" is portrayed.
It's and odd thing to nit-pick on put its all in how far you're willing to suspend your disbelief and how well the movie gives you that leeway. This "Fall" device is pretty damn hard to swallow in a movie that's otherwise more-or-less "realistic" in some manner or another and doesn't even try
to play lip-service to how this "The Fall" system works. We're just expected to accept it.
Still, it's a fun and enjoyable movie with some good sci-fi elements in it, some good action scenes and, hey, Kate Beckinsale. I'd say it's worth seeing though one might appreciate it more if you've seen the original. But, then again, if you've seen the original you already know pretty much exactly
how this movie is going to play-out. It's almost a note-for-note remake. There are some nice nods and homages to the Schwarzenegger movie, though.
EDIT: On "The Fall" looking at a globe he "line" Between Europe and Australia isn't one that goes through the core. If you turn a globe on its side with Australia on one side and Eurasia on the other and equate this to a clock Australia would be at 10:00 and Europe at 2:00. The "through point" at most would skim the inner core but, mostly, just go through the outer core. Still not that much better
than straight through the core as the pressure, heat and density differences aren't going to be that much different, but still.