There was some anticipation for Len Wiseman’s Total Recall before it was released. Could this movie live up to Paul Verhoeven’s original 1990 film? Could the movie benefit from an update? Could a realistic approach to Total Recall be just the thing it needed to work for a modern audience? After the film was released last month, the answer to these questions was a resounding “No.”
Movieline.com reports that director Paul Verhoeven recently watched the Total Recall reboot and shared his opinion of it at a special screening of his original version in Los Angeles, California. Verhoeven said of the remake:
I think if it would have been done in a straight way, I’m not so sure that it would have worked – at least, not at that time. And recently [in the Total Recall remake], it did not. I get to say that because the producer of the new one said that this was cheesy or something. And Colin Farrell called it in an interview ‘kitschy.’ So I dare to say that his version was not good.
Verhoeven continued to point out the lighter tone and humor of his Total Recall. Once the producers cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of Douglas Quaid, everything had to surround him and not the other way around. This was the only way to make the material work on the big screen.
Verhoeven also wanted to make Total Recall ambiguous by nature. He wanted to create a story that could be seen as a dream implanted by the company Rekall, but could also be interpreted as an actual science fiction spy story. As Verhoeven explains:
I felt that it should be both. I thought in retrospect this is probably the first post-modern film … the producer of the new one asked me [if it’s real or not]. I said no it’s both, and he said, ‘That’s nonsense.’
It’s clear to see why the new Total Recall doesn’t work as well as the original. Wiseman doesn’t understand its complexity. The new Total Recall is completely devoid of personality but continuously references the original to create a shortcut to storytelling. It’s a beautiful-looking film but it’s only partially baked.