What kind of a world do we live in where people are remaking Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and making them worse?!
I mean, it's not like they're remaking the shitty ones either, Conan The Barbarian and Total Recall get remade when the likes of Red Sonja, Hercules In New York and Junior still roam the Earth? I don't get it.
But ok, fine. It's a Philip K. Dick short story so there's room for interpretation and I guess with all the new CG technology available to us, a slicker version of Paul Verhoeven's film could serve at least as decent popcorn entertainment. Or, if it's smart enough, as a kind-of-good companion piece to Minority Report. The trailers promised striking visuals, loads of action and a solid cast so chances were we'd get something half-decent if not quite as retrogasmic as the original film.
Alas, what we got was a mixed bag to say the least.
Technically, Total Recall is not a bad film. It follows the basic formula of the original and keeps moving constantly. You've got really slick, really good visual effects throughout and tons of action... and that's it really. The cast is fine but bland, the film never giving us any reason or time to really care about them: their personalities and motivations are negligible. Yes in the original everyone was pretty cartoonish in that the bad guys were crazily bad and Arnie had his share of corny one-liners but it worked: they were fun. Here, they essentially blend into the background.
What really kills this remake, though, is its plot.
Whatever happened to Mars?
I mean you could argue that the red planet is hardly integral to the core story but that's partly what made Verhoeven's film so good. The build-up to Mars was exciting, the place itself when you finally got there looked amazing and you really understood why Douglas Quaid had always wanted to go there and the character's sense of wonder once he makes it there. Mars was like a character in itself and gave the film a worthy setting both visually and emotionally. Here, we're stuck on shitty-old Earth worrying about Cohaagen (played by Malcolm In The Middle's dad) and his plan to turn Australia ("The Colony"?) into a wasteland in order to build living space there. Like he's Lex Luthor.
Honestly, I couldn't give a shit at any point.
Funnily enough I cared much more about weird-looking Martian mutants than good old humans, go figure. Speaking of mutants, the topic is never approached and yet we still get our three-breasted whore, talk about tacked-on. Ok, I must admit the wink to that "twooo weeeeks" lady was pretty lol but boob-lady just didn't make sense, it only reminded me of the original film further and made me wish I was watching it again.
The action is slick, well shot and relentless but there's just too much of it. It's entertaining for the first 20 minutes but then it frankly gets snooze-worthy. This is one boring-as-f*** movie. It's about as long as the Arnie flick but feels twice as lengthy. I dare you to watch it and not feel sleepy at any point, no matter how well you slept the night before. The whole thing is one big, admittedly good-looking, action sequence but offers nothing you haven't seen before. Even the city itself is a mix of Blade Runner, Minority Report and I, Robot. Oh it's cool, but it was cool back in 1982, 2002 and 2004 for crying out loud! God the future's boringly predictable...
Colin Farrell, to be fair, makes more sense in that role than Arnold Schwarzenegger whom, I felt even back in the day, was a bit of a random choice but he's given very little to work with except an in-hand phone and a lot of running and jumping around. Kate Beckinsale makes a decent Sharon Stone replacement but it's a shame Michael Ironside's Richter doesn't get a re-cast because she basically takes over his part as well! By the end you get pretty darn sick of her. Richter was awesome, fools! Jessica Biel does an ok job despite lacking the charisma of Rachel Ticotin and Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston is far from being half as intimidating as the geniusely chilling Ronny Cox.
I should also mention that the whole mystique of Rekall is near absent here. Is it real? Is it Rekall? Who cares. No-one in their right mind would ever pick such stressful, constant danger as a fantasy. At least Arnie picked a slutty gal and a trip to Mars as templates, who wouldn't pick that?! I just don't buy that this guy would ever willingly opt for such an unpleasant ride. It's almost like Rekall is in the way, like it doesn't belong in that movie and is used as nothing more than a half-assed framing device.
Total Recall is a good action flick but it's just not a good... Total Recall movie. It gives you a lot of eye-candy and strong cinematic ingredients all around but as an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's We Remember It For You Wholesale and Verhoeven's 1990 film it's a clunky mess and just doesn't work. It's dull, uninvolving, confused and overall criminally bland. No matter how much I wanted to stand up and say "You're wrong, there CAN be a decent Total Recall remake and this is it!" I would be lying if I did. Sorry folks.