This one’s worth checking out.

Douglas (Farrell) holds his badass wife Lori (Beckinsale) at gunpoint.

Fun; my expectations were exceeded

I don’t know if it is to celebrate Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s recent return to acting or if it is because someone craved a more faithful remake of Philip K. Dick‘s We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, which incidentally is what this remake of the Paul Verhoeven 1990 classic Total Recall happens to be. But here it is – the remake.

It is true that a lot of people will miss the scenes on Mars, the mutants and above all, Arnold’s one-liners, but that is actually more true to the source material so complaining about it wouldn’t be fair. Nevertheless, is this Total Recall lousy compared to the original one or is it it’s own thing that’s entertaining in its own right? Let us examine.

The star of this version is Colin Farrell. He plays factory worker Douglas Quaid, who lives on a futuristic Earth where the population has been split into two seperate districts – United Federation of Britain and The Colony, both sides craving full power. To travel in between locations, people use a giant elevator that burrows through the planet core. Quaid lives in The Colony himself and bored with his dull life he decides to pay a visit to a place known as Rekall, an establishment that implants memories into your head to make you feel as though you’ve lived a more exciting life.

As Quaid’s about to get implanted with the memories of a secret agent, a life he’s often dreamed of, an employer (John Cho) pulls a gun at him after finding out, somehow, that Quaid is not who he calims to be, but a mind-wiped agent of corrupt dictator Vilos Coohagen (Bryan Cranston). Quaid uses his fighting abilities, of which he was totally unaware, to espace captivity and returns home to his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) who reveals herself to have been an agent of Coohagen all along. She tries to take him down but he doesn’t fall so easily.

Hopelessly running from Coohagen’s goons and agents, he eventually runs into Melina (Jessica Biel), a member of the Resitance which is lead by one Mathias (Bill Nighy), but his role is essentially that of Kuato from the original, so I’ll just call him Kuato. Melina has appeared in Quaid’s dreams before, indicating that his past as Hauser might indeed be true. She tells him that they must find Kuato before Coohagen sets his evil works in motion.

In a world desperately short on living space, cities are being built on top of each other.

I noticed that I failed to mention that this film has plenty of robots in it. Yes, service droids with the color schemes of Imperial Stormtroopers, which Coohagen intends to reprogram and use to take over the world or somesuch. It has little to do with the Quaid-Hauser plot so I kindof ignored it most of the time. Not sure why they added robots, but maybe they were in the book as well? Maybe they needed something to replace the mutants? But oh wait, there is one mutant in the film – the triple-breasted prostitute. So, yeah, apparently in this otherwise pretty normal futuristic society there’s a random mutated hooker walking around. Is there any logical justification for this piece of fanservice? I don’t know.

Truly, the triple-boobed lady was probably inserted solely to please fans of the original, but surely a lot of fans wanted to see Kuato too? Was a girl with three tits really more important than a deformed alien baby coming out of Bill Nighy’s stomach? Oh well, it doesn’t really matter, for there are plenty of other intensly charming nods to the original Total Recall in this one. The classic fat woman disguise (with a twist), the shady colleague (played by Bokeem Woodbine in this one) and so on.

Another enjoyable aspect is the performaces, and this is especially a surprise from Kate Beckinsale, for me at least. I’ve pretty much only seen Beckinsale in the dreadful Pearl Harbor, the incompetent Van Helsing and the so-so Click, so I was surprised at her unusually gripping performance. She needs to play the villainess more often.

Sure, some of the imagery seems to be taken from Blade Runner and Minority Report, but pretty much all sci-fi films steal from Blade Runner, and Minority Report, believe it or not, was originally titled Total Recall 2. And sure, some action scenes aren’t shot too well but it’s not as bad as in The Hunger Games or anything. Overal, Total Recall is a quick and enjoyable science fiction film with nifty ideas, cool sets, lovely references to the orignal, a likable cast and a fun plot.

Is the plot and the “truth” as ambiguous as in the original? Not really; it’s pretty much confirmed at the end of this one that the events of the film did indeed take place and wasn’t just part of Quaid’s projection at Rekall… but maybe that’s what they want you to believe? *Gasp*!

3.5/5 whatever