NYCC 2011: Reaction To TOTAL RECALL Footage Screened

Although its release is still ten months away, director Len Wiseman felt that at least one segment of his upcoming Total Recall remake was ready to preview to a New York Comic Con audience this past weekend.

The clip comes from early in the movie and opens with Colin Farrell as Doug Quaid chatting at bar with a friend. He asks the friend if he had ever heard of “this Rekall* place.” The friend advises him to stay away. “They’ll mess with your mind!”

We cut to Quaid arriving at the Rekall company. It is a scene that is similar to one in the original 1990 Paul Verhoeven film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Quaid is ushered to a room where a device will implant false memories into his mind by a receptionist who cheerfully and ironically tells him to “Remember to have a good time!” A bleached-blonde John Cho extols the virtues of the process – “You’ll be a crime fighter or a world class athlete or a secret agent!” – before he advises Quaid about the potential dangers of the procedure. But just as they start, it seems that something has gone wrong. Cho’s character accuses Quaid of being a spy while a technician rushes to shut the machine down.

Suddenly, a group of white armor clad soldiers burst in and gun down everyone in the room except for Quaid. Quaid at first seems scared and states that there has to be some sort of mistake, but as soon as the soldiers advance to within arm’s reach, his demeanor changes and he launches into action, making short work of them. A second squad of soldiers arrives and finds the door to the room locked. The shoot a device through the door that embeds itself onto the wall and releases numerous sensors throughout the room. Back on the other side of the door, the sensors have relayed data that allows the soldiers to construct a small holographic view that shows Quaid as the only one standing inside. As they prepare to breach the locked door, Quaid gathers hand grenades from the fallen soldiers and places them in a pile. Dropping one activated grenade on top of the pile, he dives behind some equipment for cover. As the second squad of soldiers storm into the room, the grenades go off and allowing Quaid to make his escape to a waiting flying car.

The scene was followed by a quickly edited montage of shots that contained a lot of frenetic action, some more flying cars and a quick shot of a fight in a kitchen that looked as if it was a nod to a similar scene between Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone in the original film. The décor throughout the Rekall office is very Asian influenced and a change from the techno-futurism of the original film while the visual pallet of the film was a move away from the monochromatic look of Wiseman’s Underworld films.

Even though some of the visuals looked unfinished, overall, I found the full scene that was presented encouraging. I am not the biggest fan of Wiseman as a director but the action here was edited fast enough to create visual energy but not so fast that it was difficult to follow. He primarily stays away from a lot of speed ramping and strobe effects though there is one moment where the action slows down and the camera weaves around the various soldiers as Quaid is making short work of them.

Of course, this is just a taste to get fans buzzing about the film and it would be ridiculous to try and extrapolate the end product from the five minutes screened. The script could be genius or it could be a pile of trite crap. The overall direction could be quite good or it could be a continuation of what we’ve already seen from Wiseman.

I don’t have a particular horse in this race. I liked the original Total Recall when I saw it when it first came out, but I don’t think I’ve gone back and rewatched it in over ten years. I’m always rooting for any movie to be good, so we’ll see if Wiseman manages it next August.

* I’m going with the spelling of the Rekall Corporation from the original film as I can’t find anything to contradict this.

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About Rich Drees 6949 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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