Main cast: Colin Farrell (Douglas Quaid), Kate Beckinsale (Lori Quaid), Jessica Biel (Melina). Bokeem Woodbine (Harry), Bill Nighy (Matthias Lair), Bokeem Woodbine (Harry), John Cho (Bob McClane), Steve Byers (Henry Reed), Dylan Scott Smith (Hammond), and Bryan Cranston (Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen)
Director: Len Wiseman
Total Recall is a considerably faithful remake of the 1990 movie of same name. Colin Farrell steps in the shoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and let’s face it, most people remember only Mr Schwarzenegger among the cast of the original movie. Mr Farrell is an unlikely choice to replace that man, but then again, he also decided to show up in the remake of Fright Night, so perhaps he has a plan that I am privy to.
The plot is nearly the same this time around. We are in the 21st century, where Earth has become so polluted from all the chemical warfare in the past that radical changes need to be done. What’s left of the world is divided up into new colonies, and we focus on the United Federation of Britain, where the local middle class people toil in factories while the ruling classes generally enjoy a better life. What else is new, really.
Douglas Quaid is just another factory worker, living in a nonetheless comfortable-looking apartment with his wife, Lori. Intrigued by offers from a virtual entertainment company that promises mind trips to allow one to live out all kinds of virtual fantasies, he one day decides to give the whole thing a go. He wants to be a secret agent. Things get odd when the fellow running the machine starts acting weird, and that is before armed men show up to arrest him.
Doug kills these men like a professional, and is soon on the run. He soon falls in with Melina, a woman with the Resistance who seems to know him, and discovers more about that faction that want to take down the government. Meanwhile, Lori starts going all Terminator to take him down. What is going on here? Is all this a virtual trip or, oh dear, something real?
Despite looking much shorter and less beefy than Mr Schwarzenegger, Mr Farrell shows far more facial expressions than Mr Schwarzenegger in the first fifteen minutes of the movie alone, so it is odd that this movie ends up feeling far more hollow than the original flick. While there is nothing objectionable about the cast – they look easy on the eyes and they go through the motions adequately in a script that doesn’t demand much from them – the movie ends up just being a drag to watch.
Now, I admit that a part of the reason why I find this movie rather dull could be because I have watched and enjoyed the original flick, and this movie is faithful enough a remake that I already know the twists and turns that are to come. Therefore, there isn’t much surprise to be had here.
However, this movie is also missing that enjoyable balance of action and humor in the previous flick. This one is all action – non-stop, relentless, emotionless chases and explosions without giving the characters enough quiet time so that I may start to care for them even a little. The non-stop chases soon become monotonous and even predictable, and Kate Beckinsale’s killer-cray-cray on Energizer batteries soon become too ridiculous to be taken seriously. If there are moments of comedy here, they are unintentional in nature as this movie is deadly sober. There is nothing wrong with sober action flicks set in the future, of course, but there is a problem when this movie ends up being one long-drawn chase that I soon become tired of.
This movie is a forgettable popcorn flick, despite having plenty of potential to be a glorious action flick. My advice is to try to skip this one and watch the 1990 original. That one is far less monotonous and, more importantly, more entertaining with an underlying emotional matrix that feels genuine despite having Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role.