NOPE – It probably seemed like a good idea to remake one of Arnold’s classics.
Relatively simple sci-fi premise (adapted from Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”) involving dream implant technology, oppressive bureaucrats with legions of henchmen, trench coat wearing freedom fighters, a couple of attractive female roles itching for a cat fight, and opportunities galore for pithy one liners.
“You got a lot of nerve showing your face around here, Hauser.”
“Look who’s talking.”
Pow! That’s why we love Arnold. Those moments that punctuate the action and leave you quoting your favorite Austrian body builder for the rest of your life.
So remaking one of his better films with Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid (aka Hauser) was probably doomed from the pitch.
With enhanced CGI technology, the future this story is set in is more sophisticated than the original. In fact, the “art department” effort would be the best reason to see the new Total Recall. It owes a lot to Blade Runner, and that’s a compliment.
But that’s where the praise stops.
Director Len Wiseman does his best – I guess – to maximize his ensemble of stars, but Farrell can muster little more than a one-note performance, bewildered exasperation at his double identity confusion, Jessica Biel is stuck falling in love with the sap because the script told her to, and Kate Beckinsale (Wiseman’s wife, yep yep) is asked to mimic her bad ass Underworld persona – minus the virtue or any worthy warlocks to slay. Oh yeah, Brian Cranston can pull off a lot, but he’s thin on menace and long on redundant Scooby Doo endings. Not to mention he doesn’t even get to kill Kuato, the mutant man/baby who emerged from Marshall Bell’s boiler in the original. Kuato makes Gollum look like the Keebler Elf.
That’s right, no good one-liners and no Kuato.
This is not your father’s Total Recall.
What Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best action films always managed to do was strike a balance between over the top heroics and tongue in cheek light-heartedness. Not an easy balance, granted. But no one said it would be easy.
This new Total Recall?
It’s dead tired.