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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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Good 3 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Colin Farrell
Kate Beckinsale
Jessica Biel
Ethan Hawke
Bill Nighy
Bryan Cranston.
Directors
Len Wiseman.
Screenwriters
Kurt Wimmer
Mark Bomback.
Running Time
118 minutes

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Total Recall
Déjà vu all over again


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Plot
Factory worker Doug Quaid (Farrell) has recurring dreams of being a spy and a rebel. His wife, Lori (Beckinsale), is sympathetic but helpless, so he goes to a company called Rekall to have memories implanted that will allow him to live his dream. Only it turns out not to be a fantasy, after all...


Review
Total Recall
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Philip K. Dick's short story on which Total Recall is ultimately based, the marvellously titled We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, played with the notion that our fantasies might be rooted in reality. A little more reality might have helped here, with Dick’s work once again mined for a bare concept that is bolted onto a lot of frenetic action. This is an unsubtle shoot-’em-up that loses the satire of both Dick and previous adaptor Paul Verhoeven, set in a world that makes no sense and anchored by a warring couple who only just keep things watchable.

Colin Farrell is Doug Quaid, which on the bright side instantly upgrades the acting from the Arnie-starring original. Farrell has good moments when he’s allowed to stop pelting about in a panic: the flicker of his eyes from terrified to deadly as his murderous training first kicks in is impressive, and his natural sympathy for guilty, haunted characters fits this lost Quaid well. Kate Beckinsale, as his wife, follows Sharon Stone’s example and goes for her suddenly enhanced husband’s jugular, but then sticks around as a major threat, swishing her hair like a psychotic Timotei advert. But around those two the rest of the characters fail to elevate the story: Jessica Biel is thoroughly eclipsed by Beckinsale; Bill Nighy barely registers and Bryan Cranston’s Cohaagen isn’t enough of a presence to seem a threat.

But the warring pair are stuck in a script that lifts all the beats from Verhoeven’s film with none of the witty double-dealing (aside from a single moment late on, there’s no suggestion that this is all a dream) or its self-lampooning absurdity. The world here may look cool, but it feels rickety and imaginary even before Farrell starts ripping it apart with his bare hands. And if we can’t buy the reality of Quaid’s world, how can we take his distress seriously when it comes crashing down around his ears?


Verdict
Perhaps no more absurd than the Verhoeven version, but certainly less amusing. Farrell and Beckinsale emerge unscathed, but the endless scrabbling for novelty and reinvention leaves this feeling unaccountably stale and familiar.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Total Recall
Empire Star Rating

Shocking!

This has made a very strong case for smashing its way into my list of worst films ever! Its all well and good people telling you to ignore the original but when half the decent bits of script have been lifted directly from the first one its pretty hard not to judge it against it. Beckinsale might well be the hottest woman on the planet but my god is she terrible at acting! What was Colin Farrell thinking getting involved in the shit! Its just so boring! The only thing that saved this from gettin... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by guysalisbury at 09:50, 17 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Probably one of the most boring films I've seen in a long time. It was filled with cool stuff and some interesting ideas, but never really shifted into top gear. Although the world of the film was amazing to look at. ... More

Posted by jcthefirst at 13:09, 28 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Three stars is fair, three and a half at a push. The whole thing looks amazing, and you get what you paid for, an entertaining popcorn movie. Probably best not to delve too far into the story, it's a touch convoluted. ... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 20:27, 06 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Shane? Yeah, he's a cunt. ... More

Posted by matty_b at 10:02, 30 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: matty_b But seriously reporting MonsterCat to a mod for calling you a fascist gave me the biggest laugh I've had for days. I genuinely hooted out loud. Well done. 'm torn between that and calling Elab a troll as the funniest bit of the thread. otal Recall, haven't seen it, but Colin Farrell seems a good guy. Although I've heard bad things about one of his cousins. ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 04:45, 30 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: Pigeon Army L: Rgirvan44 I still think the film was ok! ou would, you fascist. eported to the mods, Mr Mod. Christ your a bitch. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 01:34, 30 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: Rgirvan44 I still think the film was ok! ou would, you fascist. ... More

Posted by Pigeon Army at 01:11, 30 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Don't worry Dick, I can assure you that there's only one of me! Hopefully I can give a good 'account' of myself! RM ... More

Posted by Sir Roger Moore at 23:36, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Well Roger seeing as it's you, call me Dick. I've seen less obvious account duplication you understand. ... More

Posted by rich at 23:18, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

For someone called 'rich', asking for me to be banned is pretty 'poor form', isn't it? RM ... More

Posted by Sir Roger Moore at 23:10, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

I know fake IDs are usually frowned upon, but can we keep this guy? ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 23:05, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

So who us Sir Roger Moore, and can they get banned? L: MonsterCat Just to be clear, this isn't an apology to Cool Breeze. :D] ... More

Posted by rich at 23:02, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Poor 'Cool Breeze' - he seems like a bit of a 'hothead' to me! RM ... More

Posted by Sir Roger Moore at 23:02, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

In all fairness I should apologize for posting what was clearly meant to be a joke. I know full well that Cool Breeze is completely lacking a sense of humour, and I should have known that he would react the way he did. Just to be clear, this isn't an apology to Cool Breeze. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 22:58, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

I watched this last night after my daughter bought me the DVD for Christmas. I don't 'recall' much of it when I think about it, which says it all! RM ... More

Posted by Sir Roger Moore at 22:00, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: Rgirvan44 I still think the film was ok! e too! ... More

Posted by UTB at 21:32, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: matty_b L: Cool Breeze I also hate the LOTR films but i dont troll the favourite films thread for that series every day because i dont want to ruin it for those who do. You did troll The Hobbit thread, though. And insult my family the other day. But seriously reporting MonsterCat to a mod for calling you a fascist gave me the biggest laugh I've had for days. I genuinely hooted out loud. Well done. ame here. I'm sure he's been called worse, anyway. And here I was... More

Posted by DancingClown at 20:05, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: Cool Breeze I also hate the LOTR films but i dont troll the favourite films thread for that series every day because i dont want to ruin it for those who do. You did troll The Hobbit thread, though. And insult my family the other day. But seriously reporting MonsterCat to a mod for calling you a fascist gave me the biggest laugh I've had for days. I genuinely hooted out loud. Well done. ... More

Posted by matty_b at 19:55, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

I still think the film was ok! ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 19:50, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Ah well at least a film that "sucks" got a fucking tedious review thread to go with it, eh. ... More

Posted by UTB at 18:08, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: rawlinson L: Cool Breeze Actually im not trolling the Bond threads at all. sm=happy07.gif] like Daniel Craig in the role doesnt make me less so.Its my opinion and im entitled to it.ou constantly visited the boards to complain about the films, despite claiming not to have seen Skyfall you still posted dismissive opinions about it. You were doing exactly the same thing that you complained about with Duck. If he should stay away from a discussion when he obviously hates a ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 17:08, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Certainly, I should have known better than to feed the troll. ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 17:03, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

Gentleman, please - could we leave this thread to people wanting to discuss a bad film?  ... More

Posted by elab49 at 17:02, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: Cool Breeze Actually im not trolling the Bond threads at all. sm=happy07.gif] like Daniel Craig in the role doesnt make me less so.Its my opinion and im entitled to it.ou constantly visited the boards to complain about the films, despite claiming not to have seen Skyfall you still posted dismissive opinions about it. You were doing exactly the same thing that you complained about with Duck. If he should stay away from a discussion when he obviously hates a film, you should st... More

Posted by rawlinson at 16:56, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Total Recall

L: rawlinson L: Cool Breeze L: rawlinson The lack of self-awareness is staggering. specially your own lack of self awareness. 'm aware that someone who has spent most of his time here trolling the Bond threads (which was still going on until the beginning of this month), has a signature designed to bait, and recently described an actor as being a scumbag has absolutely no business calling anyone else a troll. ctually im not trolling the Bond threads at all.I vis... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 16:49, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post


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