A dreary, deadly dull retread of Paul Verhoeven's 1990 sci-fi classic, starring Colin Farrell
If only the futuristic service that drives the plot of Total Recall really did exist. For implanting fake memories is just what you’ll need after spending two hours in the company of this noxious remake. If Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 original was a colourful, ultra-violent trip to Mars, this dreary, deadly dull retread remains rooted to a rain-soaked Earth. In consciously trying to be different to Verhoeven’s film, director Len Wiseman instead rips off everything from Blade Runner to Inception.
Fair play to Colin Farrell, he tries gamely to fill the Arnie-shaped hole left by Schwarzenegger, but that was never going to happen. Like the Austrian Oak before him, Farrell plays Douglas Quaid, a factory worker living on Earth at the end of the 21st century. When Quaid decides to take a ‘memory vacation’ from his monotonous life (this, despite being married to Kate Beckinsale), he visits the Rekall facility. He wants to be a spy – but when the procedure goes wrong, it emerges he already has implants.
A former agent who went from serving the villainous Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) to leading the rebellion, Quaid realises his blue-collar existence, including his marriage, is faked. From here on, with Quaid hooking up with Jessica Biel’s fellow rebel in an effort to outrun Beckinsale’s pouting Terminator-like agent, Total Recall lurches from one chase scene to the next.
Again adapted from the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, Wiseman makes nods to the original film, but they only serve to make you wish you were at home watching it. The few nice touches (Farrell reads a battered copy of The Spy Who Loved Me) are washed away in a final act that free falls into a series of explosions, each longer and louder than the last. Even with low expectations, you’ll find this a wretched experience.
General release from Wed 29 Aug.