At about the halfway point in the new remake of “Total Recall,” I thought, “Wow, this is pretty good.”
But pretty good is all it managed. Though Len Wiseman’s reworking of Philip K. Dick’s story (and the 1990 Paul Verhoeven/Arnold Schwarzenegger film that was extrapolated from it) comes up with stunning visuals and a truly grand scale, it runs out of both excitement and sense in the final half-hour. At that point, it downshifts from innovative sci-fi thriller to standard action tale. More’s the pity. Still, for longer than you imagine, this is an exciting and unexpected ride.
Colin Farrell plays Doug Quaid, a laborer on a future version of Earth, post-chemical warfare cataclysm. The only habitable places left on the planet are Great Britain (now known as the United British Federation) and Australia, known as the Colony. Somehow, scientists and engineers have connected the two via a tunnel straight through the planet. The transport that carries laborers from the Colony to UBF is known as the Fall.
Doug lives a humdrum life in a squalid Colony apartment with his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) and dreams of having adventures that seem impossible on his salary. So he walks into a company called Rekall, which promises to implant memories of experiences he’s never actually had. It’s cheaper than the real thing, after all.
But, after selecting “secret agent” as his implanted memory, something goes wrong; his memory is already someone else’s, he’s told, so he can’t have the implant– and then the cops break in and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly Doug is on the run from the police – and when he goes home to his wife, she tries to kill him, too.
It’s a classic Dick theme: that reality may not be what it seems.
This review continues on my website.