Total Recall – the one starring action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger – was a box office success and featured some of the most amazing sci-fi visual effects of the time. 22 years have passed and the film has been given a makeover with Underworld director Len Wiseman at the helm and Colin Farrell stepping into Schwarzenegger’s shoes as construction worker turned secret agent Douglas Quaid.
Set in a futuristic 2084, the Earth has become inhospitable and citizens are forced to live in the poor and overly crowded New Shanghai while the wealthy and powerful makeup the Federation of the British Republic. Connecting them is The Fall; a transportation route directly through the center of the Earth that workers use to go from one location to the other.
Douglas Quaid (Ferrell) is just another average construction worker who wishes for something more and decides to take a trip to Rekall where they can implant any memory into a person. As John Cho’s character puts it, reality is determined by the brain and senses. While at Rekall it is revealed that Quaid has already had his memory altered, triggering a series of events that leads to the realization that Quaid is not the person he knew himself to be. With the entire government out to kill him, including his so-called wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), Quaid must find out what is truly real and what’s been a lie.
Total Recall is an action-packed sci-fi adventure that relies heavily on the fandom the first film installed. While there’s no visit to Mars this time around, there are a few scenes similar to the original. Fans will be pleased to know that yes, the three-breasted woman makes a glorious appearance. There’s also another well placed cameo regarding a certain oversized redhead that is sure to put a smile on fan faces. For the most part, though, the film carries itself on fast paced action sequences with short moments of story strewn in between.
These action sequences typically consist of Quaid trying to get away from those chasing him. Sometimes it’s Lori; sometimes it’s an army of robotic attack droids. Towards the middle of the film we’re introduced to Melina (Jessica Biel), a member of the Resistance who assists Quaid in discovering who he really is. One element that works well in the film is just how powerful both Biel and Beckinsale are. These aren’t your average dainty women who get in the way. Their fierce and no doubt forces to be reckoned with, especially Beckinsale with her relentless pursuit of Quaid. She is the shining star of the film, without question, and has shown in previous films that she’s all about the action.
With Total Recall, it is so focused on the action that the story suffers. Having someone go back and forth between two realities is difficult enough but the lack of any significant plot leads to a confusing and contrived film. It’s different enough from the first film, and I’ve heard more closely resembles the original short story. Still, even if you’re familiar with the subject matter prepare for some major head scratchers.
Action lovers will clearly find something to grasp onto in Total Recall. The visuals are absolutely stunning and there are some excellently executed chase scenes filled with plenty of explosions and gunfire. Those wanting something more will be a bit disappointed. It doesn’t quite live up to the expectations of its predecessor, but Total Recall manages to satisfy that action junkie etched into all our minds.
Follow me on Twitter @Majiesto