118 min., dir. by Len Wiseman, with Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, and Kate Beckinsale
Between 1987 and 1990, Paul Verhoeven helmed two milestones of sci-fi action cinema that are still tough to rival. The remake of 1987′s Robocop is still being finished, but the Total Recall redo is here and fighting for your love. As hard as I try not to compare any new versions of a film to its sources (The 1990 film or the Philip K. Dick short story, “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” which the films are based on), it’s proving to be difficult here. The original film did so many things right, yet this new glossy version is an atrocity of epic proportions.
After a worldwide nuclear fallout, the only habitable lands on the Earth are Great Britain and Australia. Now known as the United Federation of Britain (UFB), London is the epicenter of the rich, powerful side of the world, run by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Australia, now known as The Colony, is where the poor and meek live — it resembles the Shanghai style of Blade Runner, complete with consistent rain. Workers in The Colony travel to the UFB each day via a high speed elevator that runs through the Earth’s core, called “The Fall.”
Haunted by ominous nightmares, Colony resident Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), has hit a section of his life where things just don’t seem to work out. Against the advice of his friend, Quaid visits Rekall, a company that will implant memories of a trip or a different lifestyle into your mind for a price. Things don’t go the way they are supposed to, though, and minutes into his Rekall visit, Quaid is attacked by a highly trained S.W.A.T team — which he kills. What is going on? Is Quaid even Quaid?
The original Total Recall (besides being a landmark of non-CGI special effects) had a glorious aura of mystery and intrigue surrounding it. Most of its plot was written for the screen, with only the incident at Rekall existing as the source story. The 1990 version touched on various political issues, and played to them in an extremely smart and playful way. This new iteration is just a fancy action film with obscenely long fight scenes and a morbidly simple, unimaginative plot. More power to someone who wants to change a story and try something new, but hell, they don’t even go to Mars!
The script feels like it was written by a child who understood the idea of the story, but none of subtle intricacies of it. As the trailers show, the three-breasted woman of the original film makes an appearance, but her existence in the world we are presented makes no sense. The original film contained mutated residents of Mars who were affected by atmospheric leaks in the dome they inhabited. This caused this woman to be the only fortunate victim of the leaks. In the new version, there are no mutants, there are no ideas of an ancient alien civilization — everyone is just like us now, with better technology, except one random woman who has three tits. Yeah, maybe she got too close to a mushroom cloud (I’d hate to see her nether regions), but her inclusion is just a sign of someone who cares less about a neat story, and more about sensational muck.
There’s almost no reason to even talk about this film. It creates a ball of anger and pain in the pit of my stomach. A mangled mess of poorly explained situations and hastily thought out scenarios, the new Total Recall is totally pointless, misguided, sloppy, and pathetic. If I could, I’d visit Rekall and have the experience of seeing this movie erased from my memory.