Direction: Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale
Made back in 1990 by the Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven, the original Total Recall ranks alongside Blade Runner (1982) and Minority Report (2002) as one of the best adaptations of the work of cult sci-fi author Philip K Dick And yes it featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his more memorable roles.
Sourced from the same short story titled, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, the $200 million update also centers around a blue-collar protagonist whose life turns topsy-turvy after he opts for a memory implant. But that's where the similarities end. Incoming director Len Wiseman (the first two Underworld movies) can't overcome the script's inadequacies. Moreover, unlike Verhoeven's version it lacks a good sense of humour about itself. Jettisoning the Mars setting, the adventure stays earthbound this time around.
In a dystopian future decimated by wars and civil unrest a factory worker (Farrell standing in for Arnie) discovers that his whole life may be a fabricated fantasy. What follows is an effects-drenched tale in which the amnesiac fugitive must figure out why everyone including his wife (Beckinsale) wants him dead.
The non-stop blood-and-guts skirmishes become numbing after a while. While he delivers the requisite gravity-defying stunts for spectacle-seeking audiences, Wiseman is utterly incapable of sustaining any dramatic tension.
Worse, the absence of a political perspective - the issues at the core of the conflict are dealt with perfunctorily -does jar. All things considered, it's the production design riffing elements from The Matrix, 12 Monkeys, Star Wars and the other usual suspects, which is the film's most dynamic aspect.
Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy and Bryan Cranston barely make an impression in sketchily-written supporting roles. Even before it reaches its convoluted climax, viewers are likely to want the memory of Total Recall, 2012, completely erased.