Total Recall takes you on a roller coaster ride that is long and really fast. And much like roller coasters are, the journey leaves you exhausted and feeling a little underwhelmed.
Based on Philip Dick's short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale", the movie is a remake of a very bad movie version of the story made in 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenneger. A clerk desires to go to Mars, gets memory implants of the journey instead, and once he finds out, rebels.
The Mars bit having become but a single dialogue in this version, Total Recall is about Doug, who goes to Rekall, a dream implant center only to find himself being chased by robotic army and powers that rule from United Federation of Britain and oppress The Colony, where Doug resides.
The world has been made uninhabitable by a chemical annhilation, leaving just Britain (called UFB) and the colony, which is Australia with a curious mix of oriental people and landscape. The link between the two lands is The Fall , through the core of the earth, and a symbol of economic and political oppression.
The movie begins with an adrenaline filled chase sequence,, setting the tone for the first half that pretty much is one action packed chase sequence after the other, pausing intermittently to tell us a bit of the story and letting the audience gather some semblance. The city of UFB and Colony are CGI created visual delights that are both dark and hi tech. The rain soaked colony spiral metropolis of the colony and the clean UFB contrast the rich and poor worlds amply. Robots get thrashed, explosions happen in rapid succession and much of the cityscape gets destroyed as our protagonist goes about finding out the truth about himself. While most of it looks good, problem is, it ends up in an overdose.
Lacking in any logical coherent storyline, the film relies heavily on the action sequences, that exhaust the mind and fail to cover up for the missing plot. Why would the colony residents travel through the core of the earth daily? Why is most of the world destroyed but the two continents in the movie? How does Doug find every single clue to his memories as if laid down on a silver platter? These and many more questions creep up as the action slows down a bit post interval and the story telling, rather the lack of it, takes over.
Collin Farrel, though a much better actor than Arnold, has little much to do other than display his ample muscles and look erplexed. Kate Beckinsale reprises her Lycan walk sans the leather tights while Jessica Biel is sadly wasted in an underwritten role. Performances are also held back by uninsipired dialogue writing that more than once turns potentially powerfull moments into a farce.
While the feel of the movie would remind one of Minority Report or even Blade Runner, the ham handed direction and some lazy writing leaves one disappointed. Save for the video game like first half, there is little that leaves much of an impact once the end credits roll out. If it were not a remake of the earlier memorable cult classic, this could have been passed off as a moderate action flick. Sadly that aint the case, and history would find ti hard to replace memories of this one soon.