A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Recall - a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led - goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.
The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father's corrupted creation and a unique ally who was born inside the digital world.
Transported to Barsoom, a Civil War vet discovers a barren planet seemingly inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter Woola and a princess in desperate need of a savior.
Originally adapted by director Paul Verhoeven in 1990, author Philip K. Dick's classic Sci-Fi short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale returns to the big screen in this remake starring Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, and Kate Beckinsale, and directed by Underworld's Len Wiseman. The planet has been decimated by nuclear war in the late 21st century, leaving only two nations -- the United Federation of Britain and the Colony. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker with a stable job and a loving wife (Beckinsale), but upon learning that a company named Rekall could grant him the memory of the ultimate espionage adventure, he decides that a virtual vacation is better than no vacation at all. But in the midst of having the new memories implanted, something goes haywire. Still strapped to the chair as the system breaks down, he's branded a spy as the authorities close in, and quickly flees for his life. Later, Quaid discovers that he has a secret identity, and he joins forces ...
There is also a 130-minute extended cut, which has the following changes that makes the original story more complex and clarifies certain plot lines:
The first major change is that due to Ethan Hawke's appearance as the original Hauser, it has been clarified that Hauser becomes Quaid via memory wipe and a facial transplant. Also, rather than being converted by the resistance, it was revealed that Quaid was implanted into the resistance, with past memories to be re-implanted after completion by Cohaagen (evident by a line from him to Lori: "Neutralize only, do you understand me? No lethal force. I want him alive for re-implantation"). Subsequent scenes that appear throughout in the theatrical version have been replaced with material matching the plot point, mostly significant in his London apartment and after the raid at the resistance hideout.
The second major change is the relationship of Matthias and Melina, which is revealed and clarified as father and daughter in the new cut. Subsequent scenes that appear throughout in the theatrical version have been replaced with material matching the plot point, mostly significant after the raid at the resistance hideout.
A slight longer prologue while Quaid removes the locks on the grid as Melina covers him. He admits that he loves her and they kiss for a moment before she fires again at the pursuers after once the locks have been removed.
On the way to work, Quaid passes an ID-check and a electronic scanner. Harry complaints that he couldn't adjust to the new shift but the extra allowance makes up for it.
Harry argues that he had instructed the last new guy who, in subsequence, was fired by the supervisor. The supervisor orders Doug to do so and leaves.
In this cut, the conversation is now at the government official's room instead of the shift supervisor's room. The government official tells him that he's doing a loyalty check on workers to ensure they are not involved in any coup d'etat activities. Quaid behaves quite hostile here, but begrudgingly signs the loyalty form when told that he risks losing his job for not signing it.
After work, in The Fall, he now sleeps and has a recurring dream rather than staying awake.
The bar scene with Quaid and Harry is slightly longer: Harry asks why Quaid isn't happy with his life then asks who is the girl in the dream he had, which Doug says there's no girl; Harry also completes the line: "And go home to your wife."
On the way to the Rekall center, there's a longer moment between Quaid and the three-breast hooker with sparse shots of robot women hookers on the way.
Hammond (Quaid's partner in the enforcement) tells his cover name is Henry, before Quaid goes to the bank. At the bank, Quaid had some problem with the routine signature match procedure before he goes to the vault.
The confrontation between Harry, Quaid and Melina was longer in separate bits: Harry is trying to convince Quaid that the whole situation now was a result of a trauma from a chemical fantasy; he reveals that he was worried about him in the bar and had followed him to the Rekall facility; when asking about why Harry wears a bulletproof vest, he says he was trying to help him out of the hallucination, while Melina insists that the whole situation is real. Quaid gets confused doesn't know who to believe; Melina loses patience and utters angrily that Harry should tell Quaid the truth or she would kill him; Harry symbolizes Melina as Quaid's frustration and unhappiness.
In the Fall, Quaid sneaks pass two policemen. A computer voice warns that the Colony (rigged with a bomb) is due in 17 minutes. Later Melina enters there through a shaft below the upper platform.
Just before the end, Quaid removes the bandage over the spot where the Rekall injection tattoo was burnt into. It's no longer there. He's confused and Melina asks him whether he's alright.
Fond memories of Paul Verhoeven's "Total Recall" kept coming back while watching this remake. Arnold Schwarzenegger's screen presence was also an added plus in the 1990 film, as well as the one-liners, Mars and of course heaps of bloody violence. If you've seen the original, then you know how it goes.
Len Wiseman's remake of the same name replaces Arnold with Colin Farrell, in his first lead action role in years, while eliminating Mars as the backdrop of the action and replacing it with an overpopulated Earth where transportation from one corner to another occurs, literally, straight through the center of the earth. The rugged subterranean mazes of the red planet is replaced with dizzying skyscrapers and lots of sleek, flying cars, not unlike Philip K. Dick's own "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report".
Farrell can act and is definitely a strong action lead and it shows here, as per the beautiful ladies Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel who both show off brawn over beauty here. Alas, everything is taken way too seriously in this version. I have fonder memories of the Verhoeven/Arnold version where one-liners come post-Arnie-kill. Gone. Certain characters are trimmed or even cut completely from the original. Bryan Cranston's Cohaagen makes me miss Ronny Cox even more, and Bill Nighy's resistance leader doesn't stand out compared to the 1990 film. The best thing the screenwriters did is to combine Sharon Stone's and Michael Ironside's characters from the 1990 film into one, and as portrayed by Kate Beckinsale, she kicks serious ass here.
The script is a near complete rehash of the original, save for the setting and the final act of the film. The scene where Bokeem Woodbine's character tries to convince Quaid (Farrell) where he's still in a dream is certainly a standout scene which was very well done. Alas, the majority of the movie is laced with action sequences and sensational special effects (seriously, this is CGI porn) that may get this film a nomination for Best Visual Effects this year. No kidding. While the editing is fast-paced and the cinematography sleek (with a little too much lens flare ala J. J. Abrams), the music score by Harry Gregson- Williams was kind of bland in my opinion. It was just there, does its job, and I didn't care. Where's Marco Beltrami; or even for that matter his legendary mentor, the late, great Jerry Goldsmith when you need them?
Director Wiseman has a knack for action sequences ("Underworld", "Die Hard 4") and it shows aplenty here. Sadly the script could've been a whole lot better, but then again, if they had set it on Mars it would've been a shot-for-shot remake with better characters, but still I would've loved to see action on the Red planet once again. The PG-13 rating is justified, and there are indeed little homages to the original, but overall this remake is nothing more than a fast-paced, popcorn munching good waste of time, with some really nice CGI to chew on.
However, I'd rather watch the old one again. Arnie has a much stronger screen presence than Farrell and it is much more ambitious and has more heart than this sleeker, newer one.
Overall rating: 53%
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