Total Recall (2012)


Total Recall (2012)

Originally adapted by director Paul Verhoeven in 1990, author Philip K. Dick's classic Sci-Fi short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale returns to the big screen in this remake starring Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, and Kate Beckinsale, and directed by Underworld's Len Wiseman. The planet has been decimated by nuclear war in the late 21st century, leaving only two nations -- the United Federation of Britain and the Colony. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker with a stable job and a loving wife (Beckinsale), but upon learning that a company named Rekall could grant him the memory of the ultimate espionage adventure, he decides that a virtual vacation is better than no vacation at all. But in the midst of having the new memories implanted, something goes haywire. Still strapped to the chair as the system breaks down, he's branded a spy as the authorities close in, and quickly flees for his life. Later, Quaid discovers that he has a secret identity, and he joins forces with rebel soldier Melina (Jessica Biel) on a mission to track down Matthias (Bill Nighy), the head of a fierce resistance movement that's been labeled a terrorist organization by the tyrannical Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Cohaagen seeks to control the entire free world, and now the harder Quaid fights to defeat him, the clearer it becomes that his memory had been altered long before he walked into Rekall.
IMDb   6.2 /10
Metacritic   43 %
TheMovieDb    6.0 /10
FilmAffinity   5.2 /10
Release Date2012-08-02
Runtime1h 58min
GenreAction, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Content RatingPG-13 (PG-13)
AwardsAwards2 wins & 6 nominations
CompanyTotal Recall, Original Film, Prime Focus
CountryUSA, Canada
LanguageEnglish, Ukrainian
Douglas Quaidas Douglas Quaid…
Harryas Harry
Cohaagenas Cohaagen
Lori Quaidas Lori Quaid
Melinaas Melina
Matthiasas Matthias
McClaneas McClane
Marekas Marek
Resistance Fighteras Resistance Fighter
Military Adjutantas Military Adjutant
Bohemian Nurseas Bohemian Nurse
Bank Clerkas Bank Clerk
Slackeras Slacker
Rekall Receptionistas Rekall Receptionist
Resistance Womanas Resistance Woman
Hammondas Hammond
Factory Foremanas Factory Foreman
Three-Breasted Womanas Three-Breasted Woman

Total Recall (2012 film)

Total Recall is a 2012 American science fiction action film directed by Len Wiseman and starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. The screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback was based on the 1990 film of the same name, which was inspired by the 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. The supporting cast features Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, and Bill Nighy. Unlike the first film, the setting is on a dystopian Earth, not Mars. The film blends American and Asian influences, 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 generally mixed reviews from critics. It received praise for its action sequences and acting, but the lack of humor, emotional subtlety, and character development drew criticism.


At the end of the 21st century, Earth was devastated by chemical warfare. Precious remaining habitable land was found in just two territories: the United Federation of Britain (UFB), located on the British Isles and northwestern Europe; and the Colony, covering Australia. Factory workers living in the Colony quickly commuted to the UFB each day via "The Fall", a gravity elevator through the Earth's core which takes 17 minutes to traverse. A Resistance operating in the UFB, which the UFB views as a terrorist movement, sought to improve living conditions in the Colony.

Colony citizen Douglas Quaid has dreams of being a secret agent, aided by an unnamed woman. Tired of his factory job building police robots with friend Harry, he visits Rekall, a company that implants artificial memories. There, Quaid choses a fantasy as a secret agent. Just as the fantasy is being loaded by technician McClane, they discover that Quaid already has real memories of being a spy. As McClane starts to question Quaid about the memories, a squad of UFB police arrive, kill the Rekall staff and attempt to arrest Quaid. Quaid reacts instinctively, killing the entire squad. Upon returning home, Quaid relays the incident to his wife, Lori, who attempts to kill him but fails. She reveals that she is a UFB intelligence agent and they have only been married for six weeks, not seven years as he believed. After Quaid escapes, Charles Hammond, who tells him that they worked at federal intel together, contacts him and directs him to a safe-deposit box, where Quaid finds a message from himself with the address of an apartment in UFB.

Shortly after arriving at UFB, Quaid is pursued by Lori and her team, but he is rescued by Melina, the woman from his dreams. At the apartment, Quaid finds another recording, revealing that he was actually Carl Hauser, an agent working for UFB Chancellor Cohaagen to infiltrate the Resistance. Hauser went rogue but was captured by the UFB and implanted with false memories to manipulate him. The recording reveals that Cohaagen would use an army of robots to wipe out the Colony, replace the Colonists as laborers, therefore giving the UFB more living space. Hauser had seen a "kill code", which could be recovered from his memory by Matthias, the Resistance leader, in order to disable the robots. Melina revealed that she was Hauser's lover before he was captured, comparing their matching scars from a time they were shot while holding hands in Quaid's "dream". The police arrive and Harry appears, trying to convince Quaid that he is still in a Rekall-induced dream. Harry tells Quaid that killing Melina is the only way out. Quaid is confused and unsure what to do until he noticed a tear on Melina's cheek and shoots Harry. Lori pursues the pair, but they manage to escape.

Melina takes Quaid to see Matthias. While Matthias searches Quaid's memories, Lori and Cohaagen storm the Resistance base. Cohaagen reveals that the kill code was nothing but a trap to trick Quaid to lead them to Matthias. Cohaagen kills Matthias, takes Melina prisoner, and orders a team to restore Quaid's memory to the "old Hauser" before he was corrupted. As the officers are about to inject Quaid, Hammond reveals himself and frees Quaid, but dies in the process.

Cohaagen loads The Fall with his invasion army of robots, and Quaid sneaks on board, setting timed explosives throughout the ship while searching for Melina. He frees her as The Fall arrives at the Colony. As they fight the soldiers and Cohaagen, Quaid's explosives detonate. Quaid and Melina jump off before the vessel plummets back into the tunnel and explodes underground, killing Cohaagen and destroying his army along with The Fall itself - the only way to reach the UFB.

Waking up in an ambulance, Quaid is greeted by Melina. When he notices that she is missing their matching hand scar, he realized that she was Lori using a holographic disguise; they fight and Lori is killed. Quaid finds the real Melina as news channels declare the independence of the Colony and an advertisement for Rekall plays on a billboard in the background.


  • Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid / Carl Hauser, a factory worker suffering from strange violent dreams. He is revealed to be a former UFB operative assigned by Cohaagen to assassinate Matthias, before his defection to the Resistance and recaptured, by manipulating Quaid to his former life.
  • Kate Beckinsale as Lori, a UFB undercover agent posing as Quaid's wife.
  • Jessica Biel as Melina, a member of the Resistance and love interest of Quaid, who assist on his mission to stop Cohaagen.
  • Bryan Cranston as Chancellor Cohaagen, the corrupt and ruthless dictator of the United Federation of Britain, who attempts to ignite a full-scale invasion on The Colony.
  • Bokeem Woodbine as Harry, Quaid's workmate and best friend – in fact an agent sent by Cohaagen to monitor him.
  • Bill Nighy as Matthias, the leader of the Resistance and Melina's father.
  • John Cho as McClane, a rep and tech at Rekall who offers Quaid the chance to experience an imagined adventure.
  • Will Yun Lee as Marek, a factory worker who refers Quaid to McClane at Rekall.
  • Dylan Smith (credited as Dylan Scott Smith) as Hammond, a UFB agent turned rogue, before aiding Quaid to escape.


On June 2, 2009, Variety reported that Kurt Wimmer would write the script for the film. Mark Bomback was later brought on board, 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 is true 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. Also, this version does not credit Dick as a writer.

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.


The film score was composed and produced by Harry Gregson-Williams, with additional music performed by Hybrid.


Director's cut

The director's cut includes an extra 12 minutes and there are several difference with the theatrical version. In this version, both Hauser's memory and physical appearance were heavily altered by the UFB to turn him into Quaid and Ethan Hawke, uncredited, portrays Hauser's original appearance in a pre-recorded hologram video. Additionally, Hauser is still working for Cohaagen and plans to get close to Matthias by seducing Melina, who is the Resistance leader's daughter in this version. The Director's Cut ends with Quaid finding the real Melina, then noticing that his forearm is missing the Rekall symbol he received earlier. Recalling Matthias' words, during their short meeting, that the past blinds us to the present our heart wants, Quaid decides to accept his current world with Melina as real.


Box office

Total Recall was released on August 3, 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, and $139,589,199 outside of the United States for a total of $198,467,168 against a $125 million budget.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 31% based on 235 reviews with an average rating of 5/10. The website's critical consensus states: "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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 41 reviews, indicating "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."

Other media

Video game

A 3D first-person shooter video game of the same name for iPhone, iPad and Android was released as a tie-in to the film.