CCI: <i>Total Recall</i> Director and Stars Point to Remake's 'Tonal Shift'

Director Len Wiseman joined stars Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale to debut footage from the Total Recall remake to a packed Hall H at Comic-Con International. Although the Sony Pictures presentation was scheduled at the end of a long day of studio screenings, the audience was energetic, proof positive that the remake has plenty of momentum behind it.

And after viewing the six-minute reel, it’s easy to see why: Multiple elongated action sequences, which included Beckinsale righteously kicking Farrell’s butt, Biel expertly navigating behind the wheel of a flying car and the all-important three-breasted woman, demonstrate that Wiseman is breathing new life into the 1990 Paul Verhoeven classic made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger, glossing up the effects, cityscapes and stunts.

Wiseman, who admitted to having finished the film just four days earlier, endured some good-natured ribbing from famous wife when he admitted he had Beckinsale in mind early on for the role of Douglas Quaid’s double-crossing spouse Lori Quaid. “I’m still offended that you thought of me for this psycho bitch wife,” Beckinsale laughed before quickly admitting,“It’s nice to be able to open up the crazy a little bit.”

Cranston called the shoot, “Lots and lots of fun, very physical.”

“We were just on our feet all day long,” said Biel, who trained like an athlete for the role with “Boxing, boxing, boxing … and chicken.”

Wiseman said he was drawn to the project by the “mystery” and “world building.” “The mystery is the character himself,” he said. “Anything that begs the question, ‘Who am I,’ I’m just really drawn to.”

Farrell, who stars as Douglas Quaid, said he didn’t feel that he needed to fill Schwarzenegger’s shoes for the reimagining, and instead focused on the similarities he found between himself and his character.

“Maybe I spent a large portion of my life not knowing who I am,” he mused. “Indecision and uncertainty were two elements that rang supreme in Doug Quaid’s life … so it’s just kind of in the state of constant shock for the majority of the film.”

Beckinsale shed some light on Quaid’s wife, saying, “My character is actually sort of a mix of a couple characters from the original movie. … I think a contemporary audience is more ready to see a woman without having a right-hand man. I think Sharon Stone rocked it – our tone is very different, so it’s hard to compare the two.”

When asked whether audiences can expect him to mimic Arnold’s accent in the film, Farrell laughed and confessed, “I did think of messing around with an Austrian accent for about seven minutes.” He went on to say, “I could’ve, because we’re not really restricted by geography and there’s a great cross-pollination of cultures and nationalities.”

Farrell admitted he was hesitant to sign onto a remake of such a well-known film, but meeting with Wiseman and seeing concept art convinced him. Cranston added, “I too was a little reticent about jumping into something that someone else has made very indelible, but I threw out some ideas and Len and I were talking about a different approach than Ronny Cox did for his Cohaagen.” He alluded to more plot differences, saying, “I didn’t set out to want to kill him, I just want him to behave. He’s like a spoiled teenage son who is acting out.”

Biel added, of her character Melina, “You can’t compare it – she’s just a completely different person, a new person. And I think most importantly, Len wanted to create this love story between these two people, and that was the real exciting, terrifying challenge.”

Farrell further distinguished this version from the original, saying, “I think one of the biggest differences between this incarnation and the original is the tonal shift. This is played a lot straighter. What I’m saying is: I don’t have one-liners.”

Total Recall opens Friday.

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