Total Recall is a 2012 American science fiction action film remake of the 1990 film of the same name, in turn loosely based on the 1966 short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. Unlike the original film and short story, the plot does not include a trip to Mars and exhibits more political overtones. The film blends Western and Eastern influences, most notably in the settings and dominant populations of the two nation states in the story: the United Federation of Britain, and the Colony.
Total Recall was directed by Len Wiseman, written by Mark Bomback, James Vanderbilt, and Kurt Wimmer, and stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, and Bill Nighy. It was first announced in 2009 and was released in North America on August 3, 2012.
At the end of 21st Century, the Earth is divided into two territories — the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (Australia) — after chemical warfare devastates the remainder of the planet. Many residents of the Colony travel to the UFB to work in their factories via “the Fall”, a gravity elevator, which travels through the Earth. Habitable space is at a minimum in both the UFB and the Colony. A Resistance that operates in the UFB seeks to improve life in the Colony.
A factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to visit Rekall, a company that implants artificial memories. Rekall employee McClane (John Cho) convinces Quaid to be implanted with memories of a secret agent. Quaid is tested to avoid having implanted memories conflicting with real memories, and McClane discovers that Quaid has real memories of being a spy. McClane and his co-workers are suddenly gunned down by a SWAT team. Quaid instinctively reacts and kills the officers before escaping. Quaid returns home to his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), but Lori attempts to kill Quaid, revealing that she is not his wife of seven years, but an undercover UFB agent who has been monitoring him for the past six weeks. Quaid manages to escape, and Hammond (Dylan Scott Smith), a man claiming to be a former associate, contacts Quaid via a cell phone embedded in Quaid’s hand, disclosing the location of a nearby safe-deposit box. Quaid cuts the cell phone out of his hand to avoid being traced. In the safe-deposit box, Quaid discovers a recorded message from his former self, leading him to an apartment in UFB.
On the way, Quaid meets Melina (Jessica Biel), the woman from his dreams. At the apartment, Quaid plays a piano to trigger a second recorded message which reveals that Quaid was formerly Carl Hauser, a highly skilled agent working for UFB Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). After defecting to the Resistance movement, Hauser was captured by the UFB and implanted with false memories. The recording reveals a plot by Cohaagen to use the synthetic police force to invade the Colony to provide more living space for UFB, but that Hauser had seen a code that could stop the UFB’s robotic forces which can be recovered from his memory with the aid of the Resistance’s leader, Matthias (Bill Nighy). Melina reveals that she was Hauser’s lover, but the two were separated when Hauser was captured. Tracked to the apartment by the police, Quaid and Melina find themselves surrounded. Quaid’s friend and colleague from the Colony, Harry (Bokeem Woodbine), arrives and tries to convince Quaid that he is in a Rekall-induced dream and that killing Melina is the only way to wake up. Quaid is conflicted, but decides to not kill Melina and shoots Harry instead.
Quaid/Hauser and Melina travel to meet with Mathias. While Mathias searches the memories of Quaid/Hauser, SWAT teams led by Lori and Cohaagen burst in. Quaid/Hauser, Melina and Mathias are captured. Cohaagen informs Mathias that Hauser was secretly working for him without even knowing it (owing to the alteration of his memories) and that the code was a fake to lure Mathias out of hiding. Cohaagen guns down Mathias and orders Hauser’s mind be restored as he leaves with Lori and Melina (as a prisoner) for the Fall to launch his invasion of the Colony. Posing as a SWAT team member, the mysterious Hammond helps Quaid escape, but Hammond is killed in the process.
Quaid arrives at the Fall and manages to sneak aboard. He installs timed explosives within the Fall as he searches for Melina. After finding and freeing her, Quaid and Melina manage to exit the Fall as it arrives at the Colony. As Quaid and Melina fight with the soldiers and Cohaagen himself atop the Fall, Quaid’s explosives detonate, and Quaid and Melina escape the Fall as it plummets beneath the surface with Cohaagen and his army still on board.
Waking up in an ambulance, Quaid is greeted by Melina. However, he notices the absence of a scar on her hand and realizes it is Lori in disguise. They fight, and Quaid kills Lori. Quaid and Melina are reunited and embrace while an advertisement for Rekall plays in the background.
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First Published: Apr 24, 2012 – Last Updated: Jun 22, 2013