In 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the top of his game. Each and every movie he made was a hit.
Some of them were bigger hits than others but most made back the money they cost. Total Recall presented Arnold in his action star mode and the movie was a modest success. Still it wasn't a big enough hit to justify a remake some twenty years later. But remake it they did and now Colin Farrell is the star. To put it politely, remaking Total Recall was totally uncalled for.
In the film, which is set in the late years of the twenty-first century, the world has just about destroyed itself. There are only two pockets of habitable earth remaining and those are in Great Britain and Australia. People live in the Colony (Australia) and commute to work in the United Federation of Britain. They ride a transit that goes through the center of the earth.
Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker who lives in the Colony with his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale). He has been having disturbing dreams which leave him with a longing to have something more in his life. He tells his co-worker Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) that he might go to "Rekall," a club where you can have memories implanted into your brain.
He does end up going to "Rekall" but before he can get the treatment something happens that turns his world around. Suddenly he is battling security forces and being rescued by a woman from his dreams. Her name is Melina (Jessica Biel) and she explains that he is not the man he thought he was but is rather a heroic freedom fighter -- or something like that. All of this gets a little murky and the question of whether any of this is real or not gets lost along the way.
The best part of the movie is Beckinsale. Her character of Lori goes from loving Doug eternally to loving him to death, and I mean that literally. She comes hunting for Doug and she has murder on her mind. This is a Kate we have not seen in the past and it is a performance that completely steals this movie. Opposite her Farrell and Biel are bland and blander.
Farrell is not an actor who can carry a movie and when he is paired with Biel the whole thing sinks. The first chase scene is exciting but after that the movie just creeps along. The plot is so muddled that you can't really make heads or tails of it. Plus this is one of those movies where one hundred people shoot at the hero and miss but every shot he takes wounds someone fatally. Yeah, sure.
The film is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.
On the charisma scale, Schwarzenegger is a 10 and Farrell is a two. Good old Colin never clicks in this role and when Biel appears to help out she just makes him seem less exciting. Thank God for Kate the great who gives the film the few sparks it has. If you want to really enjoy Total Recall get the DVD of the Schwarzenegger film.
I scored "Total Recall" a forgotten 5 out of 10.