A re-adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s classic short story, set in a futuristic sci-fi world where memories can be relived, for a price. Starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. Now playing nationwide.
I'm not opposed to remakes in general, but there is an onus on the new film to at least attempt to go a little further with the material. In this regard, the new Total Recall fails miserably.
Despite the "What is Real?" marketing slogan, the new film shows little interest in the reality-bending ambiguities of the original, and is content to tell a pretty straight-forward (read: dull) spy story.
In other areas, Total Recall does a reasonable job. The mildly Blade Runner-esque future Earth is dense and colourful with requisite showy tech elements like light-up tattoos and magnetic hover cars. And the giant elevator that goes through the centre of the Earth makes for some interesting moments, despite its overall ridiculousness. I also really liked the robot police force.
Colin Farrell's lack of acting distinction suits his poorly-drawn lead character, while Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are both overshadowed by their cheekbones. Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston is miscast as the cackling villain behind it all, but it was nice seeing the gargoyle-headed Bokeem Woodbine back in a studio film as Farrell's buddy.
The big-budget blandness that permeated director Len Wiseman's previous film Die Hard 4.0 ultimately defines the proceedings here too, plus he outdoes JJ Abrams' Star Trek for overuse of distracting lens flares (Len's flares?).