Total Recall remake gets an official synopsis

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Paul Verhoeven’s original 1990 adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel, “We can remember it for you wholesale”  is a deserved cult favourite. It had an intriguing premise, original story and characters, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vintage one-liners and a woman with 3 breasts. What’s not to love?

Earlier last year, we got word that Len Wiseman (Underworld, Die Hard 4.0) is looking to rape and pillage reboot the film for a modern audience. Since then, minus some screenshots and a few minutes of footage shown at Comic-Con, there hasn’t been much info forthcoming. Now the film’s official synopsis has finally been released:

“Total Recall” is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he’s got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life – real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police – controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world – Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.

Now like any self-respecting film fan, I am generally not a fan of remakes. I think it’s a cheap and easy alternative for Hollywood execs who are to afraid to reward creativity. So naturally, I’m averse to this reboot. The presence of Colin Farrel, Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy does give me a sliver of hope though. Farrel especially, as he has been phenomenal in his last few outings. But that hope is counterbalanced by Kate Beckinsale – the female equivalent of Keanu Reeves – and director Len Wiseman – a man who clearly learnt to direct from watching MTV music videos.

Also, for those of you familiar with the original, you may notice a distinct lack of Mars in the above synopsis, the main setting for both the original film and novel. Based on the fact that Mars featured so heavily in the story previously, I’d be very interested to know what they changed to work around it.

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The footage shown at last year’s Comic-Con did receive some favourable feedback, but that was just a few minutes in isolation. Until we see a much more expansive trailer or some more footage, I don’t think I’ll be adding this to any Most Anticipated lists any time soon.

Last Updated: January 17, 2012

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

  • It’s going to be horrible, of that I have no doubt. The concept of reality versus perception, and all the paranoia that goes with it requires a far more nuanced director than has been shown to us by the guy who made Die Hard 4.0 and the heavily stylish, substantially-lacking Underworld films. 
    It requires someone willing to look at the concept on all its multiple levels. And having watched 
    Source Code pretty recently, it’s pretty clear that Duncan Jones or a director of that type is far better 
    suited to tackling Total Recall than the hamfisted Wiseman

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