Total Recall

Directed By: Len Wiseman

Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, and Bill Nighy

Remakes are a dime a dozen in Hollywood.  To an extent, it's understandable.  After more than a century of making movies, there are only so many ways you can make a film with a happy ending.  However, we should never stop trying to make fresh, innovative movies.  Sadly, Hollywood has gone and done just the opposite.  Studios aren't really creative anymore.  They just continue to manufacture sequels and remakes.  This year alone, there are 23 sequels and 12 remakes hitting theaters.  This fall in creativity has enslaved us all as moviegoers to a constant barrage of crap.  This weekend, we can see it first hand through Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 film of the same name starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, and Rachel Ticotin.

In 2084, warfare nearly obliterates the earth.  Most of the planet is uninhabitable with the exception of the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (formerly Australia). Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) rules over the UFB with an iron fist.  The only thing connecting these two lands is a travel route known as the Fall.  Using an army of synthetics, Cohaagen intends to travel to the Colony and unify the UFB and the Colony under his rule.  There are those that fight against Cohaagen though, namely a group of rebels known as the Resistance and their leader Matthias Lair (Bill Nighy).  They're known for frequently chanting that "the fall enslaves us all".

Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a laborer on an assembly line.  Lately, he's been having strange dreams about some unknown woman (Jessica Biel).  He consults with his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) about it, and she tries to console him.  While on his way to work, Doug sees an ad for a program known as Rekall.  Rekall implants memories into its clients' minds of experiences they've never had and makes them as real as anything they've actually experienced.  Against the recommendation of his best friend and co-worker Harry (Bokeem Woodbine), Quaid goes to Rekall.

When he gets there, Quaid meets rep Bob McClane (John Cho).  McClane offers Quaid several packages of imagined experiences.  He warns Quaid that he must choose something that he has not actually experienced.  Otherwise, the treatment will not work.  Quaid chooses the secret agent package.  As it turns out, he actually is a spy and McClane discovers this while preparing to implant new memories.  To make matters worse, a dozen heavily armed cops have surrounded the Rekall facilities.  When they attempt to arrest Quaid, he instinctively beats them to a pulp.  Stunned by his abilities and everything that has just transpired, Quaid flees home and tells Lori about it.  She tries to console him and embraces him lovingly.  Then, she pulls out a gun on him.

Total Recall is a competent remake of the 1990 sci-fi classic, but in no way does this film rival its predecessor in terms of quality.  Director Len Wiseman has crafted a decidedly darker adaptation of Philip K. Dick's short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale".  Wiseman takes a well-known, beloved story and makes needless tweaks for the sake of modernizing the film.  He turns a classic blockbuster into a brooding B movie.  Given modern technology, Wiseman can do more than Paul Verhoeven ever could.  He can actually make Rekall and this futuristic world real.  Nonetheless, he wastes impressive special effects on a film that retreads territory covered by much greater films such as Inception and The Matrix

There’s a mixed bag of performances from the cast.  I loved the villains and hated the heroes.  Colin Farrell's portrayal of Doug Quaid only exacerbates the darker tone of this remake.  His performance as the star is lacking in charm and wit.  He can certainly act better than Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that's worthless because he's not as entertaining.  Humor is a critical part of any major blockbuster, and Farrell's performance lacks this altogether.  As his partner and love interest Melina, Jessica Biel is just there.  She has nothing on Rachel Ticotin's performance because all she does is play the good girl.  She lacks the fire and passion that Ticotin gave us 22 years ago.  Biel’s portrayal of Melina is anything but memorable.

While I did not enjoy Farrell and Biel, I absolutely loved the performances by Bryan Cranston and Kate Beckinsale.  As Chancellor Vilos Corhaagen, Bryan Cranston shows us a side of him I don't think we've quite seen before.  His electrifying portrayal of the power-hungry politician is undeniably awesome.  If there is a show to steal in this mediocre remake of Total Recall, Cranston steals it.  We need to see him as a villain on the big screen again really soon (in a good movie preferably)!  Taking on Sharon Stone's iconic role as Lori, Kate Beckinsale rocks.  She's sexy and she's badass every single time she's on camera.  To make things better, she assumes Michael Ironside's role because there's no Richter.  She’s leading the effort to catch Quaid.  We get twice as much kickass action from Beckinsale.  That counts as a win in my book.

While Total Recall has its shining moments, the film fails to reach the benchmark the original set so many years ago.  It's too dark and too slow at times.  Great special effects and strong performances from Bryan Cranston and Kate Beckinsale can't make up for everything else that’s wrong with this movie.  Total Recall gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few Long Island ice teas with this one.