The only thing worse than a bad movie is a movie that you can hardly remember once you left the theater. Unfortunately, this is the case in Total Recall, a movie that is ostensibly a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger film, but lacks any of the spectacle that made the original a sci-fi classic.
In this 2012 take of the movie, Colin Farrell stars as Douglas Quaid , a factory worker in a dystopian world who feels the need to escape the dullness of his life. He goes to Rekall, a business that lets customers live out their dream fantasies, but the procedure goes wrong, and Quaid finds himself on the run from the police, led to his surprise by his wife (Kate Beckinsale). Quaid eventually teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the Resistance and stop Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).
There are worse movies that have been released this summer; unfortunately, Total Recall lacks any spark or imagination to even make it sent out as a watchable bad movie. Aside from Jessica Biel’s acting, there’s nothing that is inherently bad in this film. Maybe being a bad film would help. There is nothing in this film that is memorable or unique. The movie trades more on shifting set pieces than on things like tone or character development. It certainly not the first film to put action over any other sort of element, but there was potential for an interesting story.
Both Total Recall and its 1990 predecessor are based on a Philip K. Dick short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” The original adaptation made some significant alterations to the story, making the film its own. This 2012 adaptation could have very easily hewed more closely to the source material to create a different story; instead, it follows many of the notes of the 1990 film, while dropping one significant space-related element and eliminating the ambiguity that surrounded the original film’s storyline.
The resulting film is just…boring. It’s not a complete waste; Beckinsale and Cranston do appear to relish in their respective evil roles, and Farrell does give the film his best effort. In a summer filled with some top-notch action films, though, it’s a disappointment to come to one that’s just