Last year at Comic-Con, Len Wiseman and co. offered a tease of the anticipated remake of Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi flick, “Total Recall.” Outside the San Diego Convention Center, sexy futuristic lady officers stood with guns beside a future cop car.
But this year, with the August 3rd release fast approaching, Wiseman is tasked with selling tickets. This time he came prepared with the entire principal cast – Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Biel and wife Kate Becksinsale – as well as a polished reel of footage that expands upon the brief bits offered by the trailers thus far.
Asked about the pressure of taking on the iconic part originally portrayed quite memorably by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Farrell offers, “I didn’t feel the need to fill those size 16 or 18 shoes or whatever size foot Arnie has. The film felt different enough that I could create my own and I had a great time doing it.”
Before speaking further about the film, Wiseman debuts a six-minute reel. The first shots show off Wiseman’s elaborate future world, sort of a heavily enhanced take on the world from Verhoeven’s original.
It’s surprising how many scenes from the footage resemble the original, from the iconic three-breasted proposition and the implant sequence to the failed attempt at disguise where futuristic TSA agents discover Farrell’s Doug Quaid is an impostor. Like Sharon Stone’s Lori, Beckinsale’s retake is a serious screen b***h, but Beckinsale’s version ups the ante significantly in the bad-ass department. Besides beating up poor unsuspecting Doug early on, she spearheads a relentless pursuit for his capture and takes at least a few more swings at her fictitious hubby. “I give good wife,” she deadpans. By the time Biel’s Melina shows up, Doug desperately needs the help. “You’re married?” Melina asks. “I think it’s safe to say we’re separated,” Doug responds. Many other scenes, and much of the dialogue, seem to follow the original layout very closely.
The biggest difference is the lack of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and satire Verhoeven and Arnie were so well known for. So while it’s possible Farrell might kill someone with a drill, don’t expect him to scream “Screw You!” while doing it. Wiseman’s world is a little more foreboding, without much in the way of comic relief.
The footage definitely looks good, but it leaves us with the question – what does the story have to offer that we didn’t already see in the original?
The post-footage discussion is a spirited one. The cast has a nice back-and-forth chemistry, with regular jokes being cracked at the expense of Wiseman and Beckinsale’s relationship and the fact that he cast her as the villain. Regular reference is made to Wiseman’s ability to sell others on his vision, with everyone later joking that they’d also slept with the director.
Here are what Wiseman and the cast had to say about the film.
Wiseman: "Since I was 10 or 11 years old, I’ve wanted to bring a future world to life and I was finally given the chance to do that. So there are a lot of ideas in there that I’ve been really thinking about. It’s a world that’s built on top of itself rather than expanding out. In terms of the inspiration, there’s probably too many films to talk about, but I collect a lot of sci-fi art, concept so I’m sure that’s in there as well.”
Cranston: “Cohaagen has been referred to as a douchebag before. (Laughs) It was a lot of fun. Very physical for me. These three (referred to Farrell, Biel and Beckinsale) went through an unbelievable training period, exhausting every single day. Len and I were drinking together in a bar while we developed my character.”
Beckinsale: “My character is actually a mix of a couple of characters from the original. I feel okay about presenting a different take on a familiar character.. I think we’re ready to see a woman who doesn’t necessarily have a right-hand man. I think we’re ready for that. But I think Sharon Stone rocked it. It was a wild ride. I enjoyed it.”
Farrell: “I’ve spent a lot of my life not knowing who I am. (Laughs) Indecision and uncertainty were two elements that reigned supreme in Doug Quaid’s life in the moment that he finds out that everything he thinks is real and everything he held near and dear in life is a fabrication. Most of us use our past as a reference point in our lives and he doesn’t have that. As a film, it’s actually liberating. The future is wide open and he has to decide what kind of man he wants to be.”
"Total Recall" hits theaters August 3rd.