I haven’t seen the original Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, or read Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”, on which the films are loosely based. So, I had few expectations going into the movie. Good thing, because Hollywood’s latest reboot was a dull, unnecessary foray into the science fiction genre.
Total Recall stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, and Bill Nighy. Directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld and Live Free or Die Hard), Total Recall takes place in a dystopian society. Due to worldwide chemical war, only two areas of land are still inhabitable: The United Federation of Britain and The Colony (formerly known as Australia). The film prefaces that these living spaces are now the most valuable commodities, a key point to keep in mind while watching the film.
Farrell plays Douglas Quaid, an ordinary factory worker in The Colony who aspires to become something more. Frustrated with his day-to-day routine, Farrell visits ReKall, a company that specializes in implanting new memories into one’s mind. However, something goes awry and it’s not long till Farrell starts to discover the truth about his real identity.
Rather than delve deeper into Recall’s new age caste system, the film focuses much of it’s attention on entertaining chase scenes and Farrell’s quest to find his true identity. While Farrell’s performance possesses enough depth for this somewhat shallow film, it’s Beckinsale’s role as Farrell’s faux wife and U.F.B. agent that steals the show. In addition to playing an ass-kicking vixen, Beckinsale gets the most memorable line in the film. Unlike Farrell, Beckinsale doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is why she’s the most enjoyable part of the movie.
Biel does little as Colin Farrell’s girlfriend Melina. Unlike Beckinsale, Biel is unable to let loose and enjoy herself on-screen. As a result, Biel’s Melina is unmemorable.
Bryan Cranston, who earned acclaim as the drug-manufacturing chemistry teacher in AMC’s Breaking Bad, isn’t given enough material to exercise his acting chops as the ruthless, power hungry Cohaagen. At times, it seems Cranston’s Cohaagen is merely a caricature of his more terrifying alter ego on Breaking Bad.
Don’t blink… otherwise you might miss Bill Nighy’s bit performance in the film as Matthias, an anarchist and enemy of the U.F.B. Nighy’s short-lived performance reflects the film’s downfall. Rather than dissect the motives its characters, the film settles for easy answers, action sequences, and cool special effects.
If you’re looking for a summer popcorn flick, Total Recall has enough blasts and hot bods to keep you distracted for a couple of hours. However, take my advice and wait for it to come out on DVD.