We should really cut right to it, because the moment you go to Rekall and ask for the “Special Agent package” it’s not going to work out well for you. The latest adaptation of Total Recall/We Can Remember It For You Wholesale ticks our Friday night movie check-boxes: robots, guys fighting robots, chicks, chicks fighting each other and chicks with three boobs! What more can you ask?
Well, just a little more is the answer. It was said (by Jessica Biel at least) that the new Total Recall movie was an adaptation of the short story more than the previous film. In actual fact it probably borrows more from the Schwarzenegger predecessor. However there is fun to be had in the aforementioned 3 boobed lady and someone announces that they plan on staying for “two weeks.” If this take is hamstrung in anyway it’s the preconceptions that’ll be made by the original version.
Let it not be said that nothing original is being brought to the table. The setting is an earth ravaged by chemical war where only the United Federation of Britain and The Colony (formerly Australia) are habitable and are traversed by using “The Fall”, a behemoth of a train car the size of 3 Chrysler Buildings. The rest is pretty much as you remember it sans Mars…except it looks way better and not just because of the CG. The design of the world is born from practicality. Whether it be the stacking of living space or the phones in the palm of your hand (literally).
Colin Farrell is pretty much the Everyman he needs to be, even if he doesn’t quite carry the charm of Arnie. Similarly, Beckinsale is convincing as the grudging agent so bent on offing Quaid she just won’t die. vBiel gets the short straw here, as the resistance fighter that has the past with Quaid. But honestly, who cares?! This was never going to be an Oscar contender and it isn’t treated as such. All-out-thrills is the order of the day and it delivers in spades as long as you can get past the contrivances. We’re talking mag-lev car chases, mag-lev lift chases and girls punching each other in the face. There’s even a climactic scrap in the rain – hells jeah!
This may be to the sacrifice of the the original's is-he/isn’t-he mind-fuck, but it’s a pretty good Friday night-er.
2*- On Verhoven's Secret Service