Review of Total Recall

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A remake of the 1990 sci-fi action film of the same name, starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Biel & Ethan Hawke. Like the original, this reboot is inspired by the famous short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. For factory worker Douglas Quaid (Farrell), the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man as he finds himself on the run from the police.
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Somewhere Paul Verhoeven must be looking over his American filmography and wondering where the hell he went wrong? The filmmaker is seeing “Total Recall” re-done this year, “Robocop” next year, “Starship Troopers” is reportedly coming soon, but oddly the one that could actually stand a better try (Showgirls) is gonna stay shelved. I wish the others would just follow suit. If it’s one thing that director Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall” proves, it’s that the only thing worse than a reboot is a remake.

The first problem is you’re taking a film that was classic Arnold Schwarzenegger and turning it into something for Colin Farrell. He plays Doug Quaid, a dissatisfied blue collar guy who steps into a place called “Rekall” to create some fake memories only to rediscover some real ones. Doug was once a secret agent named Hauser, only now implanted with fake memories to keep him out of the way by a man named Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). There are no trips to Mars in this version of the movie. Instead we find out that most of the planet has been made uninhabitable and that there is a war going on between Cohaagen’s empire and a rebel group led by Mathias (Bill Nighy). Hauser of course fits into all this somehow and aiding him in his journey to figure it all out is Melina (Jessica Biel), while his (former) fake wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) is in hot pursuit.

Other than eliminating the trip to mars, this is basically a watered-down regurgitation of the 1990’s film. Sure the effects look newer but it all wants to be taken so seriously with its ugly/dreary looking future (and occasionally that bright and shiny tech toy) that the cheesy humor of the original is eliminated. As are all the questions that surround Doug’s fantasy/reality. The action is all generic chases and bullets, PG-13 style and mostly there to be fast and loud but missing the boat on actually thrilling.

Farrell has been given the worst assignment here to try to live up to Schwarzenegger, and it just ain’t happening. Arnold was a bonafide action hero with a great sense of humor and he could win you over with just a smile. Farrell’s portrayal is just blandly “confused” and not the least bit entertaining. Beckinsale fairs a little better playing over the top viciousness but she really can’t top Sharon Stone in the sexy and lethal department. And Jessica Biel is again just left with a forgettable role.

“Total Recall” is just a flat and unoriginal excuse for a film, much less a remake of a film that many people consider to be top-notch sci-fi. I’m sure Paul is angry, and I would assume he’s not gonna be the only one.