I reviewed the remake of “Total Recall” for IFC this week, and I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about the film.
With a film like this, it’s nearly impossible to separate the new movie from the previous film — especially since the remake veers so much farther away from Philip K. Dick’s original story (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) than the 1990 film. And in this case, the remake’s connection to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and the 1966 short story works against it, as I’m pretty sure more people would like it more if the spectre of the 1990 film wasn’t looming so large over it.
Basically, it’s a fun, clever science-fiction film, but it definitely falls short of the expectations that come with a remake of “Total Recall.”
Here’s an excerpt from my review:
Still, that’s not to say that “Total Recall” is a bad movie. Unshackled from the burden of its title and the expectations that come with it, the movie manages to be an entertaining, action-packed adventure peppered with interesting science-fiction elements. Director Len Wiseman has a knack for creating great fight sequences filled with epic gun battles and moments that slow down, speed up, and zoom in at just the right points to make a scene more impressive than it has any right to be, and Kate Beckinsale is endlessly fun to watch as Lori, the government agent masquerading as the wife of reluctant hero Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell). Her role combines the characters played by Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside in the original film, and the result is a one-woman killing machine who steals every scene she’s in.
Unfortunately, the elements that set the new film apart from its predecessor in positive ways are far too rare, and it feels like the creative team behind the remake never quite recognized what made Verhoeven’s film so great. Time after time, when the new movie has opportunities to push the limits and set itself apart from the previous film, it stops shy of the benchmarks set two decades ago. Basically, it has all the polish and shine of a 2012 movie, but lacks any of the heart and personality that would make it feel like a successor to the original “Total Recall.”
You can read the rest of my review at IFC.com.
Oh, and for everyone who keeps asking me this, the three-breasted prostitute does have a cameo in the film. Schwarzenegger, however, does not.
Oh, and if you go out to see the movie, keep an eye out for a cameo by U.S. President Barack Obama. You’ll see him in there if you pay attention.