Total Recall, this time starring Colin Farrell, disappointingly does not break the trend. If you've watched the 1990 film either in the cinemas or on reruns, you know almost exactly what to expect. Douglas Quaid is a factory worker in a dead-end job, vaguely discontent with his lot in life despite having an unreasonably hot wife. He makes a trip to a company selling life-like dreams and before he knows it, he's actually a super spy whose memory has been wiped because he chose to side with the resistance against his totalitarian government...
The greatest thing about this year's Total Recall is its big budget, which has been very wisely spent to create the look of an ultramodern world of the somewhat distant future and of course its copious special effects. The totalitarian state is called the United Federation of Britain, so God didn't save the Queen after all. The colony is formerly Australia, reverted to the state of a penal colony and refugee holding area, though instead of being a hot, dry outback ruled by Tina Turner, it looks like a suspiciously well-irrigated, massive cyberpunk Bangkok instead.
The big disappointment of Len Wiseman's Total Recall though is how creatively unambitious it is at the end of the day. The 1990 effort was no attempt at a faithful adaptation of the Philip K Dick short story "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale", and aside from the only change from an Earth-Mars conflict to a Totalitarian State-Colony conflict, Len Wiseman's film is merely a big budget, high production value update of the Paul Verhoeven film. Plot points and characters remain largely the same. If you remember the ambiguous ending, you'll see it coming too here.
That's not to say Len Wiseman's effort is without character. The action scenes here sparkle with the modern video game console sensibility and style that Wiseman adopts as his own. Yet Wiseman's decision to lose the surrealism, campiness, and cheesy one-liners from the original does detract from his own effort. On one level, it works against the rather ambiguous ending of the film, that possibly Quaid is really still at Rekall dreaming his dream which plays like a violent and sassy Duke Nukem game. On another level, it just robs his film of most of its character — given the near-expressionless non-emoting of both Beckinsale and Biel.