Len Wiseman's remake of Total Recall further codifies the look of the suggestive, mysterious futuristic universe(s) dreamt up by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick decades ago. All the visual and atmospheric details familiar from previous Dick adaptations like Blade Runner and Minority Report are present and underscored multiple times: cramped living spaces strafed with toxic natural or neon light; color-sucking grime that seeps into the actors' costumes and skin color; and never-ending rain and gloom. Like those earlier, better films, the action of Total Recall takes place in a multilevel megalopolis where the people and sights get freakier as you work your way to the bottom.

Attention should probably be paid to production designer Patrick Tatopoulos and his team for their detailed and thorough work here, which overshadows nearly all of Total Recall's human elements and human interest from the start. The new Recall borrows the implanted-memory plotline of the 1990 original and preserves some of Dick's patented philosophical mumbo-jumbo, but it's largely composed of linked chase sequences that stretch out both vertically and horizontally. There are also numerous ComicCon pin-up shots of a glowering Kate Beckinsale, depicted here as a cross between Resident Evil star Milla Jovovich and Michael Myers.

Original Recall director Paul Verhoeven's prurient lech's-kiss touch and indelible gross-out provocations (nasal probe!) are sorely missed. Nevertheless, this movie might scratch an itch for filmgoers who can't see enough computerized buildings engulfed in artificial flames.

Total Recall
Now playing, multiple locations.

Total Recall
Rated PG-13 · 121 min. · 2012
Official Site:
Director: Len Wiseman
Writer: Philip K. Dick
Producer: Neal H. Moritz and Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy


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