‘Total Recall’ Turns Visual Dreams into Reality

Recall the last time you saw a movie that had memory implants, spies in a futuristic world and a three-breasted prostitute. The last time a movie like that was made was Paul Verhoeven’s “Total Recall” in 1990. There’s no need to have watched the original film, however, because director Len Wiseman remade the 1990 thriller and put it in a 2012 setting. With action-packed scenes continually flowing on the screen, backed by excellent CGI effects and environments, Total Recall is a visually stimulating treat for viewers.

The movie opens with Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell, “Miami Vice,”) getting chased and shot at by robots before waking up with a bloody gash on his head, viewers already get the feeling that there’s action to come. Living in the post-apocalyptic future, where there are only two surviving groups, the “United Federation of Britain” (UFB) and “The Colony” (Australia), Quaid is a factory worker with a humdrum life. Quaid longs for more, especially after having recurring dreams of being a spy. The action begins after Quaid hears about a company called Rekall that “will make your dreams into real memories.”

Quaid makes his way through a grungy Asian-influenced city where he encounters the (heavily publicized) three-breasted prostitute (Kaitlyn Leeb) who points him to the direction of Rekall. After being hooked up in a chair and getting injected with “new memories”, Quaid is warned that he “can’t have something happen when it’s actually happened already”. Suddenly, police officers (who appear to be a combination of Stormtroopers from “Star Wars” and people from “TRON: Legacy”) burst into the room, and everyone wants to kill Quaid. Panicking, Quaid returns to his apartment where he soon discovers that his “good wife” (Kate Beckinsale, “Click,” “Underworld”) is actually a British spy who has been assigned to monitor him, and she tries to kill him, too.

Still confused, Quaid is told that his memory has been replaced and he’s not actually who he thinks he is. In an attempt to discover his true identity, Quaid jumps through broken windows, does the equivalent of parkour, and ends up cutting his hand open to remove a phone-tracking device. On discovering new clues about his past, Quaid learns about a secret that threatens to destroy both the worlds of his past and present. While trying to define whether his past was reality or fiction, Quaid, alongside an ally from his past (Jessica Biel), fights synthetic police robots, UFB spies and his wife from another life as they all try to hunt him down. As the fighting and action continues, the line between what is reality and what is just an implanted memory gets increasingly blurred.

The storyline is consistently interesting throughout the entire movie, but what really gets viewers’ eyes glued to the screen for all 118 minutes are the special effects. Sure, it’s expected that the computer-generated effects and scenes would be more advanced than those in the 1990 version. But the CGI scenes make the movie seem as if “Inception” and “Tron: Legacy” were mashed together with even more action-packed events to go along with them. With a rocket-elevator that travels through the earth from the UFB to The Colony, fights in zero-gravity spaces (remember “Inception”?) and 3D displays of people’s memories “coded” into their brains, “Total Recall” sets the mark for futuristic action. Action isn’t the only thing that acts as GCI-eye candy; the “No Zone” of the chemically-destroyed post-apocalyptic world looks fittingly like an abandoned urban wasteland. Juxtaposed again the high-tech security buildings of the UFB, the “No Zone” and other locations show the broad range of environments created in this action movie.

In the end, “Total Recall” is a visual thriller. While the idea of one finding out the true reality of their past along with defining one’s true identity are consistent themes throughout the movie, what stands out the most are the visual elements of the movie: the action, the futuristic technology, the range of environments in the post-apocalyptic world, the encoding of information and memories into peoples minds–the list can go on and on. What viewers will be able to remember the most from this movie will be the the constant action and CGI scenes. Rekall the visual dream, and “Total Recall” will make your dreams into a real (action-packed) movie.