MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Total Recall’ Remake Not Worth the Memories


“Two geeks. Twoooo geeeeeeks!”


“Two weeks. Twoooo weeeeeeks!”


Those words were a battle cry of sorts for my best friend Kris and I back in high school, following us all the way through college and several years past (13 to be precise).  It also helps explain why any species of the opposite sex showed reluctance to talk to us well into our twenties.


Like most film connoisseurs, my friends and I loved to quote movie lines – repeatedly… over and over again until we eventually forgot what it was like to converse in standard non-film related language.


Umm, excuse me ma’am…
I mean sir… are you going to use that head when you’re done with it? 


An example of one of our many deep thought-provoking conversations from high school:


Me: So Kris, when is our paper due for the global economies comparison project?
Kris: Two weeks.
Me: Have you even started yet?
Kris: Two weeks!
Me: Seriously… you need to get going on it, so I can copy your paper.
Kris: Twoooo weeeeeeeeeeeeks!


I kid you not this went on pretty frequently – approximately 47 times a day – and it never seemed to get old.  On the rare opportunities we see each other these days, we still try to sneak a few in for good measure.


I promised Kris I’d post a normal shot of us, just so his son Connor didn’t think his dad was a complete dork.

After recently discussing this with Kris the other night, we both are clueless as to why this particular segment of cinema history struck such a chord with us.  We pretty much chalked it up to the fact the original Total Recall was just one of those movies we all loved because it kind of represented all of the things men enjoy bonding over: partial nudity, violence, gore, hot chicks, sci-fi, Schwarzenegger and partial nudity.  We bonded over it like young men whom have no regard for their social lives with anything remotely resembling human women.


All that said, it was much to our shock (and legitimate horror) that we found out Total Recall was getting the remake treatment.


Upon seeing the preview for the first time a few months ago, I could already tell I would rather have an appendectomy sans morphine versus spending a dime on what looked like an empty shell of a money grab.

“Oh the horrah!”


Two things in the preview caught my attention though – four if you want to get technical –  and of course since I’m a guy, and a geek with a new blog, I knew I owed it to all seven of my fans to subject myself to as much sci-fi as possible.  No matter how obviously painful the outcome was going to be, I decided to take one for the geeks.


Hey, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to sit in the theater.


Apparently, it was meant to be that Kris happened to be in town visiting during the opening weekend of this remake, so we decided to hit the theater for a trip down memory implant lane.


I won’t spend too much time on the review, since in all honestly it’s not even worth much of my time (or yours).  Without further pause, here’s the quick-ish’ Dirty Harry breakdown: The Good, The Bad, and the ‘Total’ly Ugly.


As is the norm for reviews there are some very minor spoilers ahead… mainly in the ugly department.




The ONLY TWO reasons I actually kept starring at the screen.


As I foreshadowed above, there were a few good things that – dare I say – I enjoyed a tad better during this go around of memory implants.  Those two things were Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel.


Yes, Sharon Stone (as Lori) was a blonde bombshell back during the first Recall in 1990 and Rachel Ticotin (whom played Melina) wasn’t too shabby either.  However – and I will fight you to the death on this one – Biel, and most notably Beckinsale are visual improvements without any needed special effects.  I’m not just saying that because I have a partial (aka extreme) preference for brunettes either.


With a wife like this, what kind of idiot needs ‘exciting’ memory implants?! Oh, that’s right…


Beyond the male drool factor, I felt the ladies also turned in more-than-adequate acting performances given that the material was far from Shakespeare.  Arguably, Cat in the Hat had better dialogue.


In the only smart move of this remake, the roles for the ladies seemed expanded as well.  In fact, Lori’s character (Beckinsale) came across like a bad-ass humanized version of a Terminator type she-villain that far surpassed the ruthlessness of the supposedly main villain, Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).


This worried / bewildered stare was pretty much glued to her mug the whole movie, but I wasn’t complaining.


Oh, and the special effects were quite good.  Outside of the visual candy for the XY chromosomes, I couldn’t come up with any other positives outside the fact I was happy to see the credits start rolling after what felt like roughly “twoooo weeeeeks” of torture.



The BAD:


Sing it with me: “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll get new memories…”


I desperately want to say ‘everything else,’ but we aren’t at the ugly section yet.  Alas, I’ll just leave this section to this versions Quaid and Hauser stand-in, Collin Farrell. (Seeing as most women find him the opposite of ugly, it wouldn’t be fitting).


The rest of his performance, however, works nicely under this heading.  As far as I can remember – yesterday – I’ve ever been a fan of anything Mr. Farrell has done, and the new Total Recall doesn’t do him any favors when it comes to being on my “Number 2” list.


A large part – pun intended – of what made the original Total Recall work was Schwarzenegger.  Whether or not you agree with his politics, ‘Ahnold’ was a massive, yet charismatic screen presence.  His accent, facial expressions, physique, and delivery of one-liners (funny or action-based) are on most counts, unmatched.


A face only Jim Carrey could imitate… maybe.


Farrell on the other hand is uncharismatic, without range of emotion, and quite frankly… boring.  I’ve seen stone gargoyles statues that could host a daytime talk show with more personality.




I did keep of few of these posters for use as toilet paper at home… just in case I run out of the good stuff.


Everything else.  Told ya I was itching to say it!  From the revamped story, to the lackluster evil masterminds, to Collin Farrell himself (I had to do it, sorry ladies) this was a shell of a shell of the original.  When the 22-year old version of the movie that takes place on Mars is more believable than the state-of-the-art flick that takes place on earth, there are some major issues.  (A high-speed transport tube through the center of the earth?  REALLY?!)  It made me pine for Johnny Cab.


Another element sorely lacking was the absence of any real mystery to what was real, Quaid or Hauser’s life.  They pretty much throw it on a force fed platter what’s taking place in ‘reality’.  Granted, being that this is a remake, we already have our preconceptions on what’s really happening.  Still, would it hurt to throw in a little Inception-type nugget during the final scene so at the very least people would have something to talk about outside of how much this version reminded them of elephant feces.


The few notable nods to the original with the ‘two weeks’ and three-boobed ‘social’ worker (played with triple the gusto by Lisa Chandler) scenes were a nice touch, but nothing worth an ovation.  This reboot also lacked the gore, partial nudity and utter mayhem that were present during the original (and trademarks of most Verhoeven masterpieces).  I guess slapping a PG-13 on the remake to get more money-spending butts in the seats trumped an R-rating and a potentially more interesting flick.


“Three boobs. Threeee boooooooooobs!”


On the subject of three boobs, a funny story about that part of the flick.  Knowing that this movie would probably be a disaster upon entering, one of the few things Kris and I were looking forward to was the infamous hooker with an extra mammary scene (but what guy wasn’t?).


Well, apparently Kris’s bladder decided it was perfect timing to release the four beers accumulated over dinner literally moments before that extra breast-cial moment took place.  His response ‘heard-round-the-theater’ of “Awwww man, I can’t believe I missed it!” upon delivering the news to him as he returned to his seat was nothing short of hilarious.  Yeah, he missed it, but it proved to be literally the only instance during the running time I laughed out loud.  Thank you Kris.


Even Jesscia Biel agrees three are better than two.


Getting back to my rant, the main question I have about this ‘Total‘ remake is, “why?!”  The original Total Recall was one of those movies that is pure campy sci-fi fun that would never in 100 years require a remake.  Nonetheless, this IS Hollywood we are talking about… these days they can’t wait a month to remake something, let alone a century.


In case you were wondering, I’ve been referring to this film as a remake in that a reboot is usually reserved for franchises or a series of associated movies.  Lord help humanity if this movie gets a sequel.


After a summer full of disappointing, unnecessary remakes and rebooted franchise films (I’m looking at you Amazing Spidey & Dark Knight Rises), I could use some memory scrubbing of my own.


So what are my closing thoughts you ask?


Two – Do you really want me to say the line again? Well… ok…


“Two weeks.  Twoooo weeeeeeeks!”  =  Amount of time it will take this version to be released to video.






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