In a future where most of the Earth is decimated, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) can't shake his adventurous dreams. He heads to Rekall where vacations come in the form of memory transplants. In the process of becoming his own secret agent, Quaid discovers that his life is a lie. Wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale filling in for Sharon Stone but doubling for Michael Ironside and offering the best performance of the film) leads a chase to capture the awakened Quaid. Meanwhile freedom fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) attempts to persuade Quaid into finding his true identity and leading the cause against oppression.
This version of Total Recall does feature some upgrades. Of course visuals have come a long way. Where the original only had one computer-animated sequence involving primitive animated X-rays, this version has all the bells and whistles. There are maglev cars, a myriad of elevators, and a multitude of future housing developments. The art direction is noteworthy albeit not entirely original these days. You can see a frame of the 1990 version and understand immediately what you're looking at with its consumer-ready technology; do the same with this movie and it's another film looking back at Blade Runner. Fight sequences and most of the action come across as deft, if not too numerous.
The omission of the plot to free mars creates a chasm of asinine edits. The people at peril are never characterized. Since they aren't sassy mutants, there's trouble in understanding the context of early fan service. Only two inhabitable territories exist in the world. The Colony as it's called (Australia) fills in for Mars but since it's the early setting of the film there isn't anything majestic about reaching it. The film hops between the Colony and the controlling British Federation with early going ease that it fails to divide acts.
The lack of Arnold Schwarzenegger helps one appreciate Arnold Schwarzenegger. For someone considered a bad actor, we never actually won a Razzie—he actually got an honorary Razzie for failing to win the award, but did get a Golden Globe. Like Sylvester Stallone, Schwarzenegger's typical role at the time of the 1990 original, exuded masculinity. However, the difference is in the touches of humor that always cropped up in the Schwarzenegger films. One can't watch Predator without shouting to get to the chopper. Transversely Stallone's Rambo never brings the fun factor. Looking back at Total Recall (1990), little touches from Arnold make even the most gratuitous of Paul Verhoeven gore strangely comical. That odd nature interjects the ardor today's films overlook. This remake is clinical. No mars, no mutants, no soul.