In a world of reboots, reimaginings, 3D rereleases, sequels and - most recently seen with The Bourne Legacy - "sidequels" the rules are pretty simple : If you're heading back to the well - make it worth everyone's while.
Sure, updating a 1980s tech heavy b-grade schlocker with all the modern tools availible is well worth it (take a look at the cool redesign of Tron Legacy for example), as is "going back to the source" as seen with Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, hell, even a complete 180 degree "in name only sequel" is sometimes worth the $100M studio investment.
However, when something as bland, unoriginal and downright pointless as Total Recall comes along... the studio only has itself to blame when they lose a big ol' bag of cash on it.
So, what have they got for us (aside from some fancier CGI and Colin Farrell replacing Arnie)?
Total Recall is about reality and memory, inspired by visionary author Philip K. Dick's short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale".
It takes us into a world... not unlike Blade Runner... almost identical actually... home to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs.
But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man.
Finding himself on the run from the police - controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world - Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen.
The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.
The problems with Total Recall V2.0 begin quite early - at Rekall as a matter of fact - where the moment that's meant to trick viewers into questioning "what's real and what's not" is thrown down the toilet thanks to a lingering shot that clearly shows NO REKALL DRUGS ENTERING THE BODY.
Let's get this clear - THE ENTIRE MOVIE DEPENDS ON YOUR QUESTIONING EVERYTHING. When there is nothing to question, there is really no point to watching. It doesn't help either that Farrell gives us little to actually want to watch either.
Sure, Arnie wassn't the worlds most convincing actor, but there was a tongue in cheek silliness to his performance that really gave us all something to cheer for. Admittedly, the tiny Irish star is given little to work with (obviously told to keep it "serious and gritty") but it's really not a good enough excuse. Thankfully Kate Beckinsale shows up with enough spark to make you wonder "Would a Total Recall remake with Beckinsale in the lead role, or a film from her character's perspective, have been a more interesting and fun take on the story?".
The answer to that rhetorical question is YES, just in case you were wondering.
As it stands, TR2.0 is really just a series of endless "Quaid falls from a roof, through another roof" moments. When the most interesting aspect of a film is your own mind wandering about the environmental benefits of a Magnetic Car Freeway, you know somethings wrong.
It doesn't help either that the most interesting and fun aspects of the film come in the form of references to the 1990s Total Recall (including the "Two Weeks" lady and THOSE three boobies). If anything it just reinforces the notion of how relevant the original flick still is.
A snore from beginning to end, this is yet another black mark against Farrell's endless list of box office failures (yet somehow... he still gets cast despite one of the worst batting averages since Glenn McGrath) and proof once again that if a face lift isn't going to also improve your personality - then don't bother.
In a word : Bland.
1 out of 5
Total Recall Australian release: 23rd August, 2012 Official Site:Total Recall Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy Director: Len Wiseman