Why would anyone want to remake Total Recall, the mediocre 1990 sci-fi special effects movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? No one does, which may explain why director Len Wiseman’s new film of the same name has almost nothing to do with its predecessor. Both movies are loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale,” and each depicts a dystopian future in which exciting memories can be implanted into the brains of those leading mundane lives. This results in high-tech escapades that may or may not be real, but that’s about it for the connection between the two films. The only imaginable reason to re-use the title is to cash-in on its familiarity, which can’t be a good starting point for a movie.
This particular red flag doesn’t lie. Wiseman’s Total Recall offers little beyond a long series of well-executed action sequences, all connected by half-hearted story-breaks with intermittently awful dialogue. Colin Farrell seems to sleepwalk through his role as secret agent Douglas Quaid, while Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel do their best to become action heroes as Quaid’s possibly fake wife and possibly real girlfriend, respectively. But there’s another problem: robots, flying cars, environmental ruin, shifting identities, and Philip K. Dick also add up to Blade Runner, a science fiction movie to which nothing called Total Recall could ever compare. Note to future filmmakers: don’t even go there. It’s not worth the heartache.