GENRE: Sci-fi spy-jinks
THE PITCH: In the late 21st century, assembly line worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to enjoy a spy adventure thanks to a memory-implanting procedure called Rekall. Rekall reveals, however, that Quaid actually is a spy with a wiped memory, caught between Bryan Cranston's totalitarian government and Bill Nighy's freedom fighters. Or is it really a Rekall-induced illusion?
"GET YOUR ASS TO ... AUSTRALIA?" While 1990's original Total Recall partially took place on a Martian colony, the remake envisions a chemically devastated Earth with the United Federation of Britain ruling over "The Colony" (Australia). Most of the accents are American, though.
BEST LINE: "What can I say? I give good wife," Quaid's wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale), says after revealing that they're not actually married and she's eager to kill him.
WORST LINE: The two continents are connected by a supersonic commuter train through the center of the Earth called the Fall. When passengers get onboard, an automatic voice says, "Welcome to the Fall." Really, automatic voice?
BEST SHOUT-OUT: Rekall's slogan is "We can remember it for you," a nod to Philip K. Dick's short story "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale," the source of both films.
MONEY SHOTS: Glowing, futuristic tasers wrap around victims like boa constrictors. Lori chases Quaid through a terraced shantytown. When the Fall train approaches the Earth's core, gravity shuts off and then reverses itself. Characters have nifty glowing phones implanted in their hands, but no one makes the obvious joke by calling them Palm Pilots.
FLESH FACTOR: An early scene shows a cut Farrell with no shirt and Beckinsale wearing tight white undies, but the most memorable shot, harking back to the first film, features a genetically enhanced prostitute with three bare breasts. "You'll wish you had three hands," she says.
BODY COUNT: Probably about two dozen, although it's difficult to say because this future features cops in body armor and "police synthetics" (robots) that basically look the same. The most memorable violence involves stigmata-like gunshots to the hands and robot dismemberment due to open elevators.
BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL? No. Arnold Schwarzenegger and director Paul Verhoeven's 1990 version was a hybrid of existential science fiction and action movie cheese. The remake fails to recall the comedy and weirdness that made the original fun. Frankly, neither film makes the most of the reality-vs.-fantasy premise.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Although denied Schwarzenegger's snappy one-liners, Farrell nevertheless gives an effectively tortured performance (possibly more than one), while Beckinsale seems to be having a blast in the Sharon Stone role. Director Len Wiseman of the Underworld films and Live Free or Die Hard delivers a repetitious but reasonably engaging high-tech action film that offers a good time, even though you won't remember it in the morning.
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