Total Recall (2012)

Aug 7, 2012

Without Arnie, it's just a video game.

Total Recall

Grade: C

Director: Len Wiseman (Underworld)

Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer (Salt), Mark Bomback Unstoppable)

Cast: Colin Farrell (Phone Booth), Bokeem Woodbine (Letting Go)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 118 min

by John DeSando


“If I'm not me, then who the hell am I?”

Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell)


And why the hell am I awarding Total Recall a C grade when I actually could have given it a D.  But it does have a couple of thoughtful moments, especially when principal characters argue about memory and reality, a world much better suited to director Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight, Memento) than to this director, Len Wiseman, with his Underworld credit. No contest.


But Total Recall is what it is: a series of set pieces in a dark, sometimes Blade-Runner world where the heroes are running all the time from Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), who seeks in the 21st century to invade Australia as the only land mass pollution free for colonization. Explosions abound, automatic weapons are ample, and gorgeous women like wife Lori Quaid (Kate Beckinsale) and resistance operative Melina (Jessica Biel) hound hero Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) into veritable submission. The ladies are prepared at any time to make sacrifices for the good of the hero.


But those chases are annoyingly frequent, to the extent that the film feels like an adolescent’s vision of what a computer game and a movie could be. At any rate, Quaid’s ability to avoid the shower of bullets from automatic weapons every other minute is nothing short of miraculous, even for outrageously scripted sci-fi.


Although vigorously and attractively played by Farrell, he just cannot compete with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Quaid, over 20 years ago. That indefinable Arnie charm, more muscular but less reflective than Farrell’s, makes the original a classic and this production unremarkable.


John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at

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