Forget about Mars, mutants and thick Austrian accents: Hollywood has remembered Total Recall for you, but not wholesale. In truth, this sleek and earthbound update—engineered by Underworld director Len Wiseman—plays like a loose remake of several Philip K Dick movies. Instead of a red planet, there’s a rainy, noirish metropolis; Blade Runner’s Deckard would feel right at home. Automated automobiles and glowing holograms evoke Minority Report, from which the film also borrows its muted, lens-flare-heavy aesthetic. And remember the malfunctioning fat-lady disguise Schwarzenegger donned in Paul Verhoeven’s original? That’s so 1990. The new model shimmers and squiggles like the “scramble suits” of Richard Linklater’s underrated A Scanner Darkly.
Of course, for all the movie’s cosmetic changes and cross-franchise echoes, the main source of inspiration here is still Verhoeven’s picture. (Take a breath, die-hards: the three-breasted hooker makes an appearance.) A much more believable everyman than Ahnold, Colin Farrell steps into the role of the thrill-seeking civilian who discovers he’s really a memory-wiped superspy. Racing to uncover his true identity, our fugitive hero bolts from one surprisingly well-staged skirmish to the next. Hot on his tail is Kate Beckinsale’s relentless undercover agent, who’s basically an amalgam of the characters Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside played in the first film. More exciting than Verhoeven fans might expect, Wiseman’s Total reboot won’t betray your fond memories of its iconic predecessor. But those hoping for a real head trip—a truly cerebral Dick adaptation—will have to keep waiting. To paraphrase the Governator himself, the best mindfuck is probably yet to come.
From Time Out Chicago
Dir: Len Wiseman, category IIB, 118 mins, opens on Aug 2