How much does the Total Recall remake pay homage to the original? Director Len Wiseman and several of the movie's stars came to San Diego Comic-Con with footage from the film, showing off the moments that pay tribute to the 1990 action flick. Just don't expect Colin Farrell to rattle off any witty (or cheesy) one-liners. Minor spoilers ahead...
Wiseman kicked off his Hall H panel with a new sizzle reel from the movie, including several clear tribute notes: there are references to the sex worker with three breasts, Hauer's video to Quaid, Quaid's fake lady suit, and the arm-chopping elevator.
But what the sizzle reel really emphasized was the radically different tone this movie strikes. We got a few peeks at the dystopian world that Wiseman has envisioned as Quaid's home — a city that has been built up instead of out, and is home to canals and makeshift pathways for canal boats. But on the whole, the world looks slicker, with fast hover cars, subdermal phones, robotic guards (who look vaguely Stormtrooperish), and holographic suits in lieu of physical disguises. Wiseman seems keen to replace the glorious weirdness of the original film with a more modern, serious sensibility, but there was nothing in the sizzle reel that jumped out as especially visually interesting.
But it does sound like they'll be exploring more deeply the question of whether Quaid is experiencing a Rekall-induced delusion rather than a genuine conspiracy.
Farrell (Doug Quaid/Hauser), Bryan Cranston (Cohaagen), Jessica Biel (Melina), and Kate Beckinsale (Lori) all accompanied Wiseman on the panel. When asked about stepping into the iconic role of Quaid, Farrell replied, "I didn't feel the need to fill those size 16 — size 18? — shoes. The film felt different enough that I could make it my own." Later, Colin would say, with apparent relief, that he doesn't get any Arnold-esque one liners. That task was left to Beckinsale, who plays Quaid's possibly fake wife Lori.
As for the role of Lori, Beckinsale says that she isn't so much Sharon Stone's character from the original as much as a composite of that film's characters. Between jokes that Wiseman cast her (his real-life wife) as the "worst wife ever," Beckinsale noted that she felt 2012 audiences were accustomed to a female character without a right-hand man, where 1990 audiences were not — suggesting that her character is perhaps a mix of Lori and the thuggish Richter. She also notes that, while audiences may see Lori as evil, "she feels completely justified" in her violent and deceitful actions. Similarly, Biel's Melina is a much more independent character than her original film counterpart, and she's much more on an equal footing with Quaid.
Cranston's Vilos Cohaagen also has a broader role in this film. Cranston explained his relationship with Quaid/Hauser: "I set out not to want to kill him but to want him to behave. This guy would be benevolent, and if you would just listen to my ideas I would lead you into Utopia." Cohaagen just wants to snuff out these supposed terrorists for the good of everyone else, or at least that's what he likes to think.
With all these massive changes, how did Wiseman decide which pieces of the original movie to leave in? He says he asked himself: "If I wasn't involved, what would I want to see?"