Total Recall (2012)

This review will contain no spoilers whatsoever. Not because I won’t go over everything that happens in it – I absolutely will – but because this movie is such a rotten, maggot infested piece of shit that there is absolutely nothing you could do to spoil it further than it already is.

I hope at least a few people see this review and decide against going to see this movie. I wish I could get my money and time back. The talentless writers and directors churning out this dreck should not be living in multi million dollar Hollywood mansions, they should be living under an overpass trying to catch enough rats for a decent supper. It saddens me that some very good special effects people and talented crew were wasted to make a movie that is so pointless and un-engaging.

I’m a huge fan of the iconic Verhoeven film, and I’ll admit I was skeptical how they expected to remake this film and have it be an improvement.  The remake is worse in pretty much every conceivable way. Instead of an in-his-prime Arnold Schwarzenegger, over the top 90’s action movie cheese, WWE style over acting, interesting plot twists and amazing conventional special effects with million dollar animatronics and miniatures, we instead get a wooden Colin Farrell, bland acting by the whole cast, a muddled mess of a “plot” that basically drags us from one action scene to the next, one-dimensional characters without any semblance of soul or passion, and a lot of computer generated sets and explosions.

The movie begins with a lot of bland exposition. In the future, chemical warfare ravages the planet killing everything everywhere except for two spots: Britain and Australia. Britain is rich, a gleaming metropolis full of high technology, robot police, flying cars and such. Australia, also nicknamed “the colony”, is an Escher–esque 3D spiraling shanty town of housing and shopping malls improvised out of futuristic shipping containers. They link the two with a giant tube that goes through the core of the earth, through which a single skyscraper-sized train/elevator goes back and forth. Just think of dropping a dildo down the downspout on your house. The house is the planet, the downspout the tube, and the dildo the elevator.  

Then we get introduced to Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell). There’s an initial action sequence of him and Melina (Jessica Biel) running from some generic troops. This ends up being a dream and he awakens to his spacious apartment and gorgeous wife Lori Quaid (Kate Beckinsale).  This is where Colin really starts showing us how shitty he can act.  His attempts to assure his wife that he wasn’t having that bad of a dream and that he wasn’t dreaming of some mystery hottie were so brutally bad, he seemed more like a guy who got caught having an affair.  They prattle on about their lives, we learn Lori Quaid is a some kind of cop, and the movie begins a trend of setting up completely uninteresting characters we neither relate to nor care about.

Next we meet Doug’s buddy and co-worker Harry (Bokeem Woodbine). They commute through the dildovator each day to go to work at a factory where Colin welds breastplates onto robotic cops. Doug mentions wanting to try Rekall, a mind procedure where you can have an exotic vacation implanted into your memory. Harry warns against it.

The factory, being located in Britain, seems quite clean and safe, although the movie points out that you can fuck up putting two welds on a robot and something can arc and shoot a bolt through your hand. The movie explains this to us by having Douglas explain it to a new guy working in the factory, who repays his advice by mentioning he’d been to Rekall 3 times and it was “totally awesome dude”.  I did like this bit slightly better than the original Total Recall, it always struck me as odd that the Arnold-Quaid went to Rekall so easily against the advice of all his friends and loved ones.   At least Colin-Quaid had a bit of a reason to disregard the opinions of everyone in his life – the testimony of a co-worker he’d known all of 5 minutes. Also the robot cop plot reminded me of THX-1138, one of the few clever things about this movie.

After an easy day of performing his job at a safe and clean factory, Douglas and Harry stop for a couple of pints at some dingy Colony watering hole, which doesn’t seem like too scummy of a bar really. Douglas breaks down and whines to Harry how awful his life is with his good job, his spacious apartment and supermodel wife. Apparently he just needs more out of life. What the fuck? Douglas is supposed to be the relatable everyman, yet to me it seems his life would be the envy of 98% or so of the earth’s population.

Back at his apartment he finds his wife asleep and a note saying she had a hard day at work. Pondering what to do with the rest of his evening he decides what better than to go to Rekall, you know, that thing your wife and best friend have spent the movie up to this point telling you to stay away from? After all, factory dude says it’s all cool, so go get your brain fried.  Gotta be better than your horrible life with the supermodel wife, steady job and all.

On the way to Rekall, they do a callback to the original film’s three boob chick, and totally fuck it up. In the original version we are introduced to the mutants which are a major plot point, and 3 tit girl makes total sense. This movie just shoehorns her in as a street prostitute who whips her jacket open to strangers on a crowded walkway even though mutants are not established in any way in this universe. It’s the first of many little things thrown into the movie that just screams that the writers and director are either incompetent or don’t give a shit.

Unlike the Rekall facility of the original film which very logically looked like some sort of strip mall travel agency and science lab, the new version is a cyberpunk Chinese temple with giant Buddha statues, floating holographic keyboards and displays, and a creepy opium den atmosphere with tattooed weird cyberpunk staff and a Rekall chair that looks like an medieval torture device, a hardwood chair fastened to the floor with iron manacles and some cyberpunk holo-shit behind it. For some reason the creepy atmosphere does nothing to dissuade Quaid, I for one wouldn’t dream of getting futuristic brain surgery in that place. The Korean half of Harold and Kumar is the scientist dude who’s going to scramble Quaid’s brain. He explains that Rekall should not be performed if your mind has been operated on before. But why then did factory dude have no problems getting multiple procedures? I don’t know nor care. So the scientist dude performs a diagnostic which come back clean, so they begin the procedure by jabbing a gigantic needle into Quaid’s arm attached to an aquarium tube through which a motor-oil like substance flows. This needle and tube looks like it could bloat up Quaid like a balloon in a matter of minutes, its ridiculous looking.

The Rekall procedure immediately fucks up, scientist dude starts screaming at Quaid for lying about having a previous procedure, suddenly an army of police are there tearing shit up and Quaid suddenly is an action hero kicking everyone’s ass with an epiphany moment totally aped from The Matrix, when Neo is all “whoa” that he’s suddenly superman. Why did a hundred armored cops with assault rifles and grenades and shit show up to try and catch one guy at Rekall? I forget and don’t care anyways. This movie doesn’t explain all kinds of things and fails spectacularly to make the audience care about anyone or anything that’s happening.

Quaid makes his way back home without pursuit somehow and tells his wife Lori what happened. She immediately becomes the fusion of the wife and Richter characters from the original movie and they trash the apartment trying to kill each other. Quaid runs away, eventually loses Lori after a protracted chase scene of them running through the Colony’s mazelike shanty town, and rides the dildovator to Britain. Lori talks to Cohaagen who orders her to take Quaid alive, she demands to know who he really is and apparently Douglas was their best agent ever and Lori immediately orders her subordinates to kill Doug directly against her superior’s orders and almost murders someone who challenges her. What the fuck? And nobody else there decides to contact Cohaagen and let him know that their commander is directly countermanding his direct orders.

Back in Britain, the movie flops another callback to the original going through the security checkpoint. We see the fat ugly lady go through security and say “two weeks”, but this time Quaid isn’t her but actually behind her. All this scene really did for me was remind me how much better the original was.

He meets the girl from his dreams somewhere, his buddy Harry from work appears and does yet another failed callback to the scene in the original version where the scientist from Recall tries to convince Arnold-Quaid that he’s in a delusion. In this version though they are in a building surrounded by robo cops and Harry’s objective is to get Quaid to shoot his dream girl Milena. Dubious logic at best and yeah Harry it was real smart to try and negotiate while being a completely obvious threat backed up by hundreds of cops. Whatever, Quaid shoots Harry then we’re treated to another mindless action scene of them running around through a hotel-like facility which seems like it’s 90% turbolift elevators and huge seemingly pointless ventilation / maintenance shafts. How do they even have space for the rooms in that place? Doug’s terminator wife relentlessly pursues them with her army of robo cops and is pissed off when they ultimately get away. This is the template for every action scene in the movie.

There’s another action sequence involving flying cars which immediately pissed me off because it takes place on a sky road. Why the fuck do you build a sky road for a flying car? Because they fly magnetically of course, so it’s revealed they aren’t actual flying cars but magnetically hovering cars. Permit me a quick pro and con list between flying and land bound cars here:

Land Bound Cars

Flying Cars



  • Require roads
  • Can’t travel freely in any direction
  • Can’t as easily evade the hundreds of pursuing cop cars
  • Chase scenes have been done to death
  • High energy consumption
  • Can fall from the sky causing death and destruction

So in a stroke of anti-genius, the filmmakers fused two modes of transportation into one that combines all the weaknesses and none of the benefits! And another thing, about the dildovator, to me it seems they should have had two tubes with cars going both ways and the same time, not one car that goes back and forth and totally bottlenecks the traffic.

Everything in this movie makes absolutely no sense under any level of scrutiny. What keeps the poisonous atmosphere out of Britain and Australia? When we’re shown the “no-zone” (the location of the rebel base) the air is a pea-soup fog of deadly poison. Also the name of the place makes me think of the videos they showed us in elementary school to help us avoid molestation. Nowhere is it explained why the chemical poison that killed off 90% of the world can’t seep into what’s left.

And what about Cohaagen’s brilliant plan? He wants to take an army of synthetics to the Colony to kill all the impoverished and turn the area into another Britain. That doesn’t work! The whole reason Britain can be a rich paradise is that they have slave labor to exploit. And all the poors are on the other side of the world anyways. Apparently being “chancellor” of a technological paradise just isn’t enough. Just knowing that there are (ugh) poor people on the other side of the planet is such a sickening idea to him he has to kill them all. Oh, and they bomb a train here and there once in a while. Yes that’s reason enough to kill millions of innocents and the labour force that makes your whole society possible. See, in the original Total Recall, Cohaagen didn’t have to worry about killing the mutants because he was only oxygen-starving one sector, and he could get more poors from earth. In the reboot, the Colony props up the entire wealthy society of Britain, and the rebel bombings seemed like a fairly minor inconvenience to an otherwise utopian existence.

So near the end of the movie, Douglas and Milena has stowed aboard the dildovator headed to the Colony with Cohaagen and his army of synthetics. Doug has a fight with some troops and puts timed explosives all over the dildovator and a huge retarded looking digital watch-strap that’s synched to the explosives. During the dildovator ride the gravity inversion that happens in the core takes like 3 minutes allowing a zero-G fight scene, even though at the start of the movie the gravity switch is introduced and lasts only moments. Quaid gets to the roof of the dildovator as it arrives in the Colony and is confronted by Cohaagen and an army of synthetics. Melina rises out of an aircraft hanger with an assault aircraft and mows down the synthetics. Why does the dildovator have an aircraft hangar in it? It’s a vehicle for going through a tube in the earth. It isn’t like an emergency escape vehicle or anything. Whatever, the assholes who made this movie didn’t put any thought into anything, why should I?

It’s at this point that Cohaagen suddenly busts out some wicked kung fu on Quaid for no fucking reason. Apparently Quaid isn’t the uber secret agent dude after all, because he gets manhandled by an aging politician somehow. Probably because the retards writing the movie couldn’t figure out how to climax the “story” without a “boss fight”. Cohaagen whips Quaid’s arm around simply so he can see his watch count down the last couple of seconds before kaboom. The aircraft that was setup to be their escape vehicle conveniently crashes but that doesn’t matter because they just escape the exploding dildovator anyways.

I don’t even recall (ha… ha) the point at which Lori Quaid bites the bullet but she popped up incessantly throughout the film like a maskless female version of Darth Vader being all menacing and always just a step behind them causing all kinds of chases and havoc. But in the initial fight scene between Doug and Lori, they establish that although she’s a competent ass kicker, Douglas is just enough her better that he really doesn’t have much to fear, and as he escapes from every situation time and again it completely fails to build any dread or suspense.

So that’s pretty much the whole shit pile of a movie. A bunch of forgettable computer generated action schlock and flat acting, terrible clichés and a senseless world that wasn’t thought through at all. I really disliked this movie on a visceral level. I checked out the box office on the film after seeing it and it’s currently grossed $42 million whereas it had a budget of $125 million. That’s fantastic news. I’m sick and tired of these shit movies and I have a personal vendetta against the talentless morons making them. It’s time to vote with our dollars and punish these modern day villains. I want to see them kicked out of their mansions and moved into the low-rent housing they deserve. I want the talented middle class set builders and effects people set to work on movies worth making and not wasted on this filth. I’d like to see movies enter a new golden age and we can help that happen if we stop rewarding Hollywood for soulless reboots and remakes and instead support bold new original ideas. That’s what everybody says they want right? Well let’s all stop talking about making a difference and make one!

Final verdict: Totall Recall 2012 is forgettable, toned down, modern action movie garbage. I wish I hadn’t seen it the first time and I’d sure as hell never see it again. If you have never seen the original 1990 version and are in any way a fan of violent and over the top action then do yourself a favor and watch it instead. Either way there’s no reason to see the new one, its insulting trash made by people who either are morons or think the audience is.

-The Butcher