I was more interested in the new Total Recall than most other remakes, because I always thought the original had one major problem:
The starting point of Total Recall is that here is a guy who suddenly discovers that he’s not a normal guy, and that he is a trained agent. It’s the story of someone who doesn’t know he has it in him.
Now look at Schwarzenegger. You could not look at him and think, “This is just a regular working joe.”
Colin Farrell is a much better fit for the part of Doug Quaid. He has more of the “everyman” sort of presence, and you can believe him as either the blue collar guy or the agent.
The juiciest performance comes from Kate Beckinsale. She plays Quaid’s wire Lori with delicious relish. She’s not evil, exactly, but she has no qualms about fulfilling her mission to stop Doug Quaid. And she takes on the job with haughty aplomb.
Unfortunately, the improved casting makes the weaknesses in the script more apparent. The most interesting parts of the premiseare questions of identity and reality. Instead, the third act of this movie is more interested in political upheaval. Instead of creating some personal tension with, “Is this all in his mind?”, we get a revolution unfolding for reasons we don’t care about and for stakes that are not clear.
Visually, the film is not terribly interesting either. It looks exactly like Blade Runner. Maybe that was deliberate, since both were adapted from Philip K. Dick’s work.
We’ve had two okay movies with this premise. But I still have this niggling feeling that there is a great one to be made. I’d pay for memories of that.