I saw the big budget remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sharon Stone scifi actioner, Total Recall. This new version stars Colin Farrell (taking over from Arnie), Kate Beckinsale as his wife/watcher (originally played by the Mars hating Sharon Stone), and Jessica Biel in the rebel/lover role (originally played by the sleazy but demure Rachel Ticotin).
The plot for this “remake” > and its predecessor is very loosely derived from a short story by Philip K Dick. In this version of the story, Farrell’s Douglas Quaid is a lowly factory worker with a beautiful, devoted wife (Beckinsale) who lives in the oppressive confines of The Colony but commutes to work (via a world spanning train tunnel) to the seemingly utopian Britain to work. He feels a deep dissatisfaction with his daily life and has dreams about being trapped in a place, trying to escape with the aid of an equally beautiful mystery woman (Biel).
One of the things that I like most about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall is that it has a sense of humor; it’s a wild romp and had a “damn, doesn’t that make you grin at the shittiness of it all” kind of pluck to it. It took itself just seriously enough to carry you along for the ride. The fact that at the end of it you, as the viewer, we’re left to decide if it was real or all in Quaid’s head was icing on the cake.
This version is humorless, joyless and filled with hard, ruthless people who aren’t even enjoying being hard and ruthless. It doesn’t help at all that the script and direction don’t bring anything new to the table as far as ideas are concerned. You’re left realizing at the end of it all that you just watched a fairly standard chase movie with a lot of special effects thrown in purely for the sake of spectacle. Themes of identity and purpose are present but so eclipsed by visual bombast that you just don’t care whether Quaid finds out who he is or isnt.
I was disappointed by this effort in the extreme. I will take the Verhoeven/Schwarzenegger version over this one every time because as cheesy as it is, it has a heart. Wiseman/Farrell and Co? Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
I really think that instead of rehashing movies that were pretty great in their original versions (Footloose and Spiderman, anyone?) Hollywood should focus on taking a chance on creating something new and different. There are some great scifi stories out there that could be crafted into the next big thing. I’d rather have somebody try and fail at that than get served another helping of “been there, done that”.
Final recommendation? Skip it. Go see The Dark Knight Rises again.