The newest totally unneeded “remake” is Total Recall, based very closely on the Phillip K. Dick short story, so it’s not technically a remake of the early 90’s flick staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it’s hard not to escape that feeling. Remaking films is all the rage these days, and while some of them improve on a movie held back by the technology of the day, some are just completely not needed and feel like a cash grab. In this case, does the new Total Recall hold up on its own, or should it have new memories implanted?
Collin Farrell stars as Douglas Quaid, a worker in the The Colony that’s bored of his monotonous life, who decides its a good idea to visit Rekall, a business in the shady side of town that implants artificial memories to try to spice up your boring life. Things go array from there, and thus throwing the the story in gear. The rest of the story is typical fodder for mindless action films. There’s a top secret government plot, double agents, and plenty of twists and turns that keep the story moving. Along for the ride is the always hot Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy as a character that needed a lot more screen time, and Bryan Cranston as another awesome character that doesn’t get enough screen time. With Farrell’s character the ultimate weak link, the rest of the characters are very well acted, and each actor brings their own little quirk to their character. From the way Kate Beckinsale’s Lori playfully tries to kill Quaid, to the usual quirkiness from Bill Nighy as Matthias, all the characters really shine. So where did the movie go wrong?
Easy answer? The script and the story. The story is just plan bland, and the script lags and is just not well written. You never feel really connected to any of the characters, so all the twists and turns just seem like its going through the typical motions. All the undertones of evil big government just feels shallow and not very fleshed out. It almost feels like someone wrote a script treatment, and it had just enough in common with Total Recall to warrant it being labelled as such. Over all, most of the film is just boring. There are some decent action scenes and fight sequences, but 15 minutes of good choreography doesn’t excuse the rest of the film.
The biggest disappointment about the whole film is that it really has the potential to be awesome. Some of the actors and actresses really bring life to their roles, but it’s just lost on the overall film. The film looks awesome, and really feels like it could be something Earth could look like. Nothing is super outlandish, and all the science fiction elements are pretty well thought out. There really is some good eye candy in some of the set pieces, but it all goes to waste on such a lackluster film. The whole film has a great aesthetic and look, but its just wasted on such a boring film.
Overall, its boring. It’s not engaging, and while it’s admirable that the filmmakers wanted to re-evaluate the source material, it still feels like a film that absolutely didn’t need to be made. The original short story took place on Earth, not Mars, but sometimes sticking closely to the source doesn’t work out for the best. The first Total Recall film was so engaging and has become so iconic, it’s impossible to watch this movie without seeing everything the 1990 Paul Verhoeven version did perfectly. If there’s a single redeeming factor to the film, its that it looks really good. But it’s not enough to carry the film, at all. But, if you really have your heart set on seeing a hot three breasted alien, this is the only film to do the job.
2 out of 5.