Movies:Movie Profiles:Total Recall

Total Recall

Total Recall
Photo: ©2012 Columbia Pictures

Director(s): Len Wiseman

Writer(s): Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback

Cast: , , , Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho and Bill Nighy

Release Date(s)

Aug 3, 2012 - Wide

Though some might think that Total Recall is a remake of the 1990 film, producer Toby Jaffe sees it as going back to author Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale and re-imagining the story. Fellow producer Neal H. Moritz agreed.

“We just felt like we could make a fresh version of the original story,” Moritz says. “By re-imagining the story, we thought that there was so much more to the characters and story that we could investigate. That felt fresh to us.”

“The genius of the story is this idea that you can implant a memory into somebody’s head and when they wake up, they will feel they’ve lived it,” says Jaffe.

Unlike the 1990 movie, 2012’s Total Recall stays true to the story and keeps the action on Earth and not Mars. “When we reminded ourselves that Philip K. Dick didn’t send his characters to Mars, that really opened up the possibilities,” says Jaffe. “Once we were freed to keep the character here on Earth, like Dick does, we weren’t constrained by the setting, the era, or the hows and whys of getting him off the planet.”

The lead role of Quaid, was given to Colin Farrell. Unlike Schwarzenegger, Farrell’s frame makes him a bit more relatable as a “regular guy”.

“It’s a common story, a man who feels that he isn’t living the life he should be living — a man experiencing some discontent with his lot in life,” says Farrell. “But he gets a rude awakening, which is that he really isn’t living the life he should be living. Quaid has no idea who he is, beyond a deeply cellular or emotional level. The whole movie is him trying to figure out who is the real Quaid.”

Farrell was intrigued by the psychological underpinnings to the action film. “It brings up issues of identity, ego, and super-ego — it’s fun to wade into that psychological pond a bit,” he says.

The film also has two very strong female characters played by Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. “The female roles required women who not only were likable and attractive but could actually be physical,” says Moritz. “And Jessica Biel can fight like the devil and Kate Beckinsale can probably beat the devil. So the two of them, you know, in these sequences of having to be physical throughout the whole movie, were incredible.”

Director Len Wiseman also tried to only use CG where CG was absolutely necessary, which is a relief for me, because even with all the advances some CG just looks fake. Discussing Wiseman’s decision to build as much as possible, Jaffe says, “He wanted to make it as real as possible, because he feels it looks better. He feels the actors perform better when they’re hanging off of a car as opposed to hanging off a block on the stage. So it was part of our agenda from the beginning to build practical versions of our futuristic cars and shoot on real locations.” Speaking of locations, those of us here in Toronto remember the chases being filmed under the Gardiner Expressway. Given that roadway’s current state of repair, it’s lucky that no futuristic cars were hit by current-day concrete.

The use of many real sets was important for the actors too. Jessica Biel says that “If the set is beautifully done and is so realistic that you can’t see the seams, it becomes another character. It becomes your reality, and you step onto the set and it just transports you to wherever you need to be. Emotionally and physically, it’s hugely important.”

It’ll be time for you to decide what’s real and what’s not, what’s a real memory and what’s an implanted one, when Total Recall opens in North America on August 3rd, 2012.