The Sci-Fi Chronicles brings me to another remake, this time Total Recall. Based ever so loosely on the Philip K. Dick tale, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, it also seeks to prove itself a worthy successor to one of the biggest films of the early 90s.
Most viewers will only know the Schwarzenegger film, and may be completely unfamiliar with the source material, so using that film as a comparison, this one is a blatant disappointment, I mean they don’t even go to Mars! The whole idea of going to Mars, and the mutants, and the dead alien race, not to mention Michael Ironside, and Ronny Cox made the film ten kinds of awesome. And as a bonus they threw in a score by Jerry Goldsmith. This one just doesn’t compare.
And nor does it want to, it wants to be its own thing. But if that’s the case, maybe they should have picked a different title…
This time around Colin Farrell is Douglas Quaid. Married to Lori (Kate Beckinsale, sigh), Quaid is a hard worker and wants a bit of a break, so he goes to Rekall… to have memories implanted, like a vacation, an affair, a spy…
But then everyone around him turns on him and Lori starts hunting him down… is he really a spy? And how does the beautiful Melina (Jessica Biel) come into it?
The film has a good, possibly great, cast, including Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, Bill Nighy, Ethan Hawke and our friend Natalie Lisinska, very nice production values (a wannabe Blade Runner feel to it) and solid visuals, but it doesn’t have the sense of fun, or the is he or isn’t he dreaming (or suffering paranoid delusions) aspect of the previous cinematic incarnation, it touches on it halfway through the film, but it isn’t as layered into the film as it could have been, or was in the previous incarnation.
There are fun things to the film, Quaid reading Fleming’s The Spy Who Loved Me during his morning commute, nods to (or lifts from) the original – the three breasted woman, the customs sequence… if it wanted to be taken on its own merits it shouldn’t have been so blatant in the things it revisited from the original.
I could rail against the remake, ask why they needed to do it, when the original is still incredibly enjoyable, but hey, why complain… I still have the original. What does bother me is that people are going to see this one, and then ignore the superior original.
In the end, this one isn’t a horrible film, but it never seems quite able to stand on its own and get out from under Schwarzenegger’s lengthy shadow.