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Total Recall: Fashion, Action Style

by Hollie Moat

Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel in Total Recall

In the next week or so we can expect the release of the much anticipated re-boot of Paul Verhoeven’s cult 1990 action film Total Recall, which sees Colin Farell step into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role as the normal guy in a futuristic world, who finds out he has a secret past life as a spy when he experiments with a memory planting service created by a mysterious company.

Given the complexities of that plot, and the fact that this 2012 movie is a remake of a beloved camp classic starring one of Hollywood’s most famous and controversial figures you’d think those would be the factors dominating the copious amount of reviews that have already come out.
Yet the one thing that has seemingly got them all talking is Kate Beckinsale’s relentless hunger for kicking ass throughout the film. By all accounts, the woman who got her first big break in a Shakespeare comedy, has become a running, shooting and fighting machine.

This year, the action heroine has become something of a favourite on the silver screen (Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Black Widow from The Avengers) and since films are very often where we look to for style inspiration, does this mean in a couple of seasons time we’ll all be dressed to kill – literally?

If that’s the case we thought we’d prepare ourselves by taking a closer look at what we can expect, and whether it’s actually any good for real life…

First let’s focus on Beckinsale herself, and as aggressive and deadly as she may be as Farell’s fake wife who is actually an undercover opposition agent who goes on a rampage to kill him, she actually looks pretty normal (if you take away the guns). Maybe even a little fashion-forward, in her all-black ensemble with cut-out detail that wouldn’t be entirely out of place on a Christopher Kane piece and boots in a similar vein to the Acne pistol model. Add that to the fact she continues to wear her hair loose and tousled, and this is a look that we could get on bored with!


Kate Beckinsale in Total Recall

To see if Beckinsale’s totally wearable wardrobe was a fluke, lets also take a look at her Total Recall co-star Jessica Biel, who plays the good (but still handy with a firearm) girl to Kate’s femme fatale. Biel’s look is more low-key, with a battered leather jacket and flat boots, and still totally acceptable to wear in public although she might want to kick those cargo pants back in the Nineties where they belong. Overall though, in a down-town cool Rick Owens kind of way, it’s looking good.


Jessica Biel in Total Recall

When we step outside of Recall, that’s when things start unravelling. Looking at the all-action babe from this Summer’s biggest blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises, sees things take a wholly more theatrical turn. Ann Hathaway starred as the latest incarnation of Catwoman, sporting a skin-tight latex jumpsuit that even the actress admitted only worked with a body earned by hours and hours of gruelling physical training. It may have been mercifully free of the high-gloss finish of Michelle Pfeiffer’s (which looked amazing but is even more unforgiving) but it’s near impossible for a mere mortal to pull off – even as a Halloween costume.


Ann Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises

And then there are your classic combat heroines like Lara Croft.  Her wardrobe is essentially made up of booty shorts, gun holsters and tight vests that show off her barely believable chest. It might be okay for the gym we suppose…


Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider

Sticking with Angelina, surely her Mrs Smith role, an undercover assassin who is also a dab hand at housekeeping and haute cuisine might be able to go about her deadly duties in something feminine and wearable?


Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Mr and Mrs Smith

Maybe not.

The jury is still out on whether 2012’s Total Recall is any good, but as far as action inspirations for designers go, it’s the only one we’ve found that’s five stars all the way.
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