Total Recall (2012 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Len Wiseman|
|Based on||"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"
by Philip K. Dick
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||Christian Wagner|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
136 minutes (Director's Cut)
|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 itself 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. It centers upon an ordinary factory worker who accidentally discovers that his current life is a fabrication predicated upon false memories implanted into his brain by the government. Ensuing events leave him no room for doubt that his true identity is that of a highly trained secret agent. He then follows a trail of clues to gradually recover more suppressed memories and reassumes his original vocation with renewed dedication. Unlike the first film and the short story, the plot takes place on Earth rather than a trip to Mars and exhibits more political overtones. The film blends American and Asian influences, most notably in the settings and dominant populations of the two nation-states in the story: the United Federation of Britain (Western Europe) and the Colony (Australia).
The film was first announced in 2009 and was released in North America on August 3, 2012, grossing over $198 million worldwide. The film received negative reviews from both American and British critics. It received praise in certain areas such as its action sequences, but the film's lack of humor, emotional subtlety, and character development drew the most criticism.
At the end of the 21st century, Earth is devastated by chemical warfare. What little habitable land remains is divided into two territories, the United Federation of Britain (UFB, located on the British Isles and western mainland Europe) and the Colony (Australia). Many residents of the Colony travel to the UFB to work in factories via “The Fall,” a gravity elevator running through the Earth’s core. A Resistance operating in the UFB, which the UFB views as a terrorist movement, seeks to improve life in the Colony.
Colony citizen Douglas Quaid has been having dreams of being a secret agent, aided by an unknown woman. Tired of his factory job building police robots with friend Harry, he visits Rekall, a virtual entertainment company that implants artificial memories. Among the choices Rekall salesman Bob McClane offers Quaid are the memories of a secret agent. An emblem of Rekall is stamped onto his arm. Just as Quaid is starting to be implanted, McClane discovers that he already has real memories of being a covert operative. As McClane starts to question Quaid about the memories, UFB police officers burst in, killing the Rekall crew and attempting to arrest Quaid. Quaid instinctively reacts and kills the officers before escaping. Upon returning home his wife Lori attempts to kill him, revealing that she is an undercover UFB agent who has been monitoring him only for the past six weeks, and that she doesn’t know who or what he was. After Quaid escapes, Charles Hammond, a “friend” Quaid does not recognize, contacts him and directs him to a safe-deposit box. Quaid finds a recorded message from his former self with the address of a UFB apartment.
While being pursued by Lori and other human and robot police, Quaid meets Melina, the woman from his dreams. At the apartment Quaid finds another recording, revealing that his name is actually Carl Hauser, an agent working for UFB Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen. After defecting to the Resistance, Hauser was captured by the UFB and implanted with false memories. The recording reveals that Cohaagen will use robots to invade the Colony so the UFB will have more living space. Hauser, however, has seen a “kill code” that would disable the robots. The code can be recovered from his memory by Resistance leader Matthias. Melina reveals that she was Hauser’s lover before Hauser was captured; she proves that they knew each other by showing that they have matching scars from a time they were both shot while holding hands. The police surround the apartment building and Harry appears. He tries to convince Quaid that he is still in a Rekall-induced dream and that killing Melina is the only way out. Quaid is conflicted, but notices a tear on Melina’s cheek and shoots Harry instead. Lori pursues the pair inside the building's elevators, but fails to capture them.
Quaid and Melina meet with Matthias. While Matthias searches Quaid’s memories, Lori and Cohaagen storm the Resistance base. Cohaagen reveals that Hauser was in fact working for him without Quaid even knowing it due to the memory alteration, using the kill code as a trap. Cohaagen kills Matthias and arranges to restore Hauser’s memory before leaving with Melina as a prisoner. As the officers are about to inject Quaid, Hammond (revealed to be one of the police officers involved in the raid) sacrifices himself to help Quaid escape.
Cohaagen begins his invasion of the Colony, loading The Fall with his army of robots. Quaid sneaks onboard, setting timed explosives throughout the ship while searching for Melina. After freeing her, they climb atop The Fall as it arrives at the Colony. As they fight the soldiers and Cohaagen, Quaid's explosives detonate. Quaid and Melina jump off before the ship plummets back into the tunnel and explodes underground, killing Cohaagen and destroying his army and The Fall itself.
Waking up in an ambulance, Quaid is greeted by Melina. When he notices that she is missing her scar, he realizes that she is Lori using a holographic disguise; they fight and Lori is killed. Quaid finds the real Melina outside the ambulance and they embrace. As news channels declare the independence of The Colony, Quaid looks up to find an advertisement of Rekall on an electronic billboard and sees that the stamp given by Rekall crew on his arm is missing.
- Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid/Carl Hauser, a factory worker suffering from strange violent dreams.
- Kate Beckinsale as Lori Quaid, a UFB undercover agent posing as Quaid's wife.
- Jessica Biel as Melina, a member of the Resistance and Quaid/Hauser's love interest and she is six years younger than Hauser. In the extended director's cut, she is Matthias' daughter.
- Bryan Cranston as Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen, the corrupt and ruthless Chancellor of the United Federation of Britain.
- Bokeem Woodbine as Harry, Quaid's workmate and best friend – in fact an agent sent by Cohaagen to monitor him.
- Bill Nighy as Matthias Lair, the leader of the Resistance.
- John Cho as Bob McClane, a rep for Rekall who offers Quaid the chance to experience an imagined adventure.
- Steve Byers as Henry Reed, a cover for Hauser.
- Dylan Scott Smith as Hammond.
Ethan Hawke appears uncredited as Hauser's original appearance in the director's cut. In the script as originally filmed, both Hauser's memory and physical appearance were heavily altered by the UFB to turn him into Quaid. This plot point was excised from the theatrical cut, so Hawke appears only in the extended director's cut.
On June 2, 2009, Variety reported that Kurt Wimmer would write the script for the film. Mark Bomback was later brought onboard, and James Vanderbilt did an uncredited "polish" on the script. Over a year later Len Wiseman was hired to direct. Paul Cameron is the film's cinematographer, and Christian Wagner is the film's editor. The soundtrack is a collaboration of Harry Gregson-Williams and Welsh electronica group Hybrid. Although described in the press as a "remake," star Jessica Biel claimed in her August 2, 2012 appearance on The Daily Show that the film is not a remake of the 1990 film, but an adaptation of the original short story by Philip K. Dick. However, Biel's own character of "Melina" was not actually present in the original short story by Philip K. Dick and exists only in this film and the original 1990 film. The same goes for the characters of Cohaagen and Harry, along with the leader of the Resistance. This version of the film also uses the names Quaid and Lori for the main character and his wife, like the 1990 film, whereas in the original short story they were Quail and Kirsten. The basic story also follows that of the original 1990 film, albeit with certain changes such as keeping the action on Earth rather than Mars.
In August 2010, Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed an interest in reprising his role as Quaid, but in October 2010 it was officially reported in The Hollywood Reporter that Colin Farrell was on top of the short list, which included Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender, to play Quaid. On January 11, 2011, it was announced that Farrell had secured the role. Farrell stated in April that the remake would not be the same as Dick's short story.
Beckinsale and Biel were both confirmed for roles on May 25, after actresses Eva Green, Diane Kruger, and Kate Bosworth had previously been considered for Biel's role. Actor Bryan Cranston was cast as the film's villain. Ethan Hawke was reportedly cast in a cameo role, and commented that his character had a monologue about five pages long; however, this role was later cut. Though cut from the original film, Ethan Hawke is featured in the extended version of the film. Later cast additions included Bill Nighy and John Cho.
On a reported budget of $125 million, principal photography began in Toronto on May 16, 2011, and ended on September 20, 2011. Scenes were filmed at the Pinewood Toronto Studios, as well as the University of Toronto, Lower Bay Station, CIBC Commerce Court, the University of Toronto Scarborough, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and Guelph. The film was shot with Red Epic digital cameras and Panavision anamorphic lenses. After securing the film rights from Miramax, Columbia Pictures distributed the film.
Box office performance
Total Recall was released on August 4, 2012, and opened in 3,601 theaters in the United States, grossing $9,092,341 on its opening day and $25,577,758 on its opening weekend, ranking #2 with a per theater average of $7,220. The film performed poorly domestically with only $58,877,969, but made a strong $139,589,199 outside of the United States for a total of $198,467,168 against a $125 million budget.
The film has received mixed to negative reviews from critics. It has a 30% "rotten" rating on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes based on 217 reviews, with the consensus stating: "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." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 43, based on 41 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews." Critics cited Total Recall's action sequences as "visually impressive". The film earned a Razzie Award nomination for Biel as Worst Supporting Actress.
Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gave the film a positive review, stating: "The richly constructed first hour is so superior to any feat of sci-fi speculation since Minority Report that the bland aftertaste of the chase finale is quickly forgotten." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four; praising its details, he stated: "Total Recall is well-crafted, high energy sci-fi. Like all stories inspired by Philip K. Dick, it deals with intriguing ideas. It never touched me emotionally, though, the way the 1990 film did, and strictly speaking, isn't necessary." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune also gave the film a positive review, stating that "the movie marches in predictable formations as well. But when Biel's rebel pulls over in her hover car and asks Farrell if he'd like a ride, your heart may sing as mine did."
Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mixed review, saying that "the outcome is engaging enough, although not entirely satisfying from either a genre or narrative standpoint, lacking both substance and a degree of imagination." Amy Biancolli of the San Francisco Chronicle also gave the film a mixed review, stating: "For all of its dazzlingly rendered cityscapes and nonstop action, this revamped Total Recall is a bland thing—bloodless, airless, humorless, featureless. With or without the triple-bosomed prostitute." Jen Chaney of The Washington Post gave the film two-stars-out-of-four, saying: "So what makes this 2012 Total Recall superior to the Arnie model? For starters, there's an actual actor in the starring role.... Still, this Recall has more than its share of flaws." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C", stating that "this one is somberly kinetic and joyless." Justin Chang of Variety gave the film a mixed review: "Crazy new gadgets, vigorous action sequences and a thorough production-design makeover aren't enough to keep Total Recall from feeling like a near-total redundancy."
Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film a negative review, stating: "As for a villain, you could do worse than Bryan Cranston as the evil political overlord who is trying to stamp out the resistance... But... When he goes mano a mano with Farrell, it's not spine-tingling. It's embarrassing, like watching a dude beat up his dad." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also gave the film a negative review, stating that "since the new Recall is totally witless, don't expect laughs. Originality and coherence are also notably MIA."
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