Bryan Cranston Cast As 'Total Recall' Villain; Basic Plot Revealed

What will it take to make the Total Recall remake look like a good idea? Casting Colin Farrell in the lead is a good move, while hiring Len Wiseman (Underworld, Live Free or Die Hard) to direct doesn't inspire quite the same good will. We've known little else about the film, but now Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Drive) is in negotiations to play the film's bad guy.

Thanks to new reports, we finally know a bit more about the film. Kurt Wimmer wrote this version of the film based on Philip K. Dick's 1966 short story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale, and it sounds like he's making some big changes.

We recently heard that Kate Bosworth, Diane Kruger, Eva Mendes, Paula Patton, Jessica Biel and Eva Green were in consideration for the two main female roles,Lori and Melinda, and that report made it sound like they were more or less the same roles as in the Paul Verhoeven version. That suggested this might really be a direct remake of the film, rather than a re-adaptation of the short story. But Bryan Cranston isn't playing the Michael Ironside character, Richter.

THR says he is Vilos Cohaagen, leader of a nation state called Euromerica. The report offers this synopsis, which seems to cut out Mars altogether and push the new film away from both the short story and existing movie:

The new story involves nation states Euromerica and New Shanghai, with Douglas Quaid (Farrell) a factory worker in the latter who begins to believe he is a spy, although he doesn't know for which side. Cranston would play Vilos Cohaagen, the leader of Euromerica who, under the cover of protecting his people, is secretly readying an invasion of New Shanghai.

Almost sounds like there's some 1984 stuff going on there, with the dual warring nation states. Interesting take. When Total Recall first came into being it was after years of development and several different screenwriters and directors. As is so often the case with films based on PKD stories, the end result was significantly different from the original story in several ways, though screenwriters Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon and Gary Goldman and director Paul Verhoeven managed to keep some of the spirit of the story alive.

Though I do like Colin Farrell and Bryan Cranston enough to be interested in this, it still seems like a wild card. Paul Verhoeven is hardly a subtle director, but he is known for having a real facility with satire. He can take what looks like a standard big-budget action affair and give it depth. Len Wiseman is more of a flashy mainstream action guy — depth and subtlety are not among his strengths. This casting suggests that the producers are pushing for something more than a glossy, routine story, and the plot description supports that idea. What do you think? Can Len Wiseman expand his range and make this work? [Variety first broke the casting news.]