You’ll be tempted to judge it because there’s been a version made before, but Total Recall – starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston – delivers its own stand-alone, successful take on the Philip K. Dick short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” And it’s appropriately coined an “action-thriller,” as this film, directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld, Live Free or Die Hard), kicks off with an action sequence and doesn’t slow down until its lead character, Douglas Quaid (Farrell), uncovers the truth about his identity.
“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.”
That rude awakening happens when he pays a visit to Rekall, a company that can tap into your brain and turn your dreams into real memories – the only catch: you can’t be implanted with memories of a life you’ve lived or are currently living. So, with a penchant for reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, Quaid asks to be implanted with memories of life as a secret agent. As the process begins, the man running Quaid’s Rekall, McClane (John Cho), stops implantation when the high-tech computer detects those exact pre-existing memories in Quaid’s brain. Confused and quick to dismiss the accusation, Quaid and Rekall come under attack, thrown into a fight he never saw coming.
For the production, it was one of the most challenging action scenes to pull off.
“From a character standpoint, I wanted the sequence to feel like he didn’t have a chance to catch his breath,” says Wiseman. “I wanted the audience to experience the same thing.”
The director may have aimed for this scene to have that high level of energy, but he ended up weaving it through the entire film. The result is almost two hours of incredible sequences and stunts, which brought lessons of their own for the actors.
“You get schooled when you come to work with [the stuntmen],” says Farrell, playing the role originated by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1990. “You get practical lessons that you’d never need to learn, if you weren’t doing this job.”
In order to get just the right woman who could handle the physical challenges and look authentic when fighting Farrell on-screen, Wiseman turned to his Underworld star and wife, Kate Beckinsale, who steps into the role formally played by Sharon Stone. And as Quaid’s forgotten girlfriend, Melina, actress Jessica Biel took on the challenge.
“The female roles required women who not only were likable and attractive but could actually be physical,” says producer Neal Moritz. “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.”
While Biel definitely delivers when it’s her turn to kick some ass, audiences will absolutely be enthralled and entertained by the hand-to-hand combat scenes between Farrell and Beckinsale, whose characters fight with such pointed determination. The Seven Sees’ Gerrad Hall sats down with Farrell and Beckinsale to get the inside story on all the action.