New Release: Total Recall
The original Total Recall was a staple in my house and when the inevitable remake was announced, I didn't blink, because, as with most remakes, I didn't care. However, as promotional material started to emerge, I thought perhaps it might be worth a trip to the theater. Though the concept of Mars is left completely out of this version, the story still revolves around a seemingly normal guy, Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell), who takes a trip to the memory bank Rekall to have memories implanted, only to have old, suppressed memories of being a spy come to the surface in a fight against oppression of the lower class.
There isn't a lot that's memorable about Total Recall 2.0, but I did love the set design of the film. With only two areas of land left on Earth for humans to inhabit, people are living on top of each other in ways unimagined, with cities several layers up into the sky. Though sometimes confusing, particularly with the use of elevators, the imagination put into the look of the film had me captivated and is easily the best reason to see it.
Other than that, the film is non-stop action with an paper-thin plot and very shallow characters. The two best actors (Bill Nighy and Bryan Cranston) are sadly underused and Jessica Biel filling the role of Melina was a bit pitiful. However, Farrell held his own and I'd take Kate Beckinsale over Sharon Stone any day.
The biggest disappointment for me was the missed opportunity to make the remake more similar to the original, by having a MacGuffin that cleared the toxic air on the rest of Earth so society could spread out. Unfortunately this was not the main source of oppression and what we got felt more cliched than if the original plot had been recycled.
However, though the remake suffers from a ton of style-over-substance issues, which were I to think on them for a minute longer, I'd probably hate the film, I actually did enjoy the two-hour trip Total Recall, 2.0 offered. I wasn't expecting magic with this remake of the 90's action/sci-fi classic...and I didn't get it. It will not endure over the next two decades like its predecessor. But for a hot summer afternoon, it worked just fine.