Total Recall is an adrenaline-pumping improvement on the original
Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel. Rated PG.
Who needs Arnold Schwarzenegger? Director Len Wiseman’s Total Recall remake certainly doesn’t, thanks largely to one of the most unrelenting action heroes we’ve seen since Arnie abandoned Hollywood for politics.
Believe it or not, even though he gets top billing in this gloomy but effective remake of director Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 original, that action hero isn’t Colin Farrell, who brings an air of beaten-down resignation to his role of blue-collar Everyman Douglas Quaid. What is real and what is not becomes the question after Quaid visits Rekall, a sort of high-tech opium den that plants fake memories in those looking to escape the drudgery of real life. His fantasy? To be a double agent.
Kate Beckinsale hijacks the show as Lori, a government operative who starts the movie as a doting housewife and then suddenly shape-shifts into an eye-poppingly adrenalized lethal weapon. Both Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley would be wowed by the way she tracks her prey in Total Recall’s high-velocity chase sequences, her character crashing through skylights and refusing to blink in epic shootouts.
Even better, she’s got company in the form of Jessica Biel, who makes a formidable nemesis as the resistance fighter Melina.
So for all the science fiction–geek eye candy on display—nitro-charged hovercar chases, shuttle rides through the Earth’s molten core, LED tattoos—it’s old-fashioned girl-on-girl action that provides the film’s big buzz moment. Total Recall sticks Beckinsale and Biel in a cramped elevator and has them go at each other in an mortal-combat scene where the fists of fury never stop flying.
There’s more to Wiseman’s reboot than the fight sequences, though. The film, with a fair bit of intelligence, touches on such topics as government surveillance, economic exploitation of have-not countries, and the fact that the future looks bleaker than Blade Runner. And that’s a huge improvement on the original, as even Arnie die-hards will be hard-pressed to deny.
Watch the trailer for Total Recall.