August 9, 2012

'Recall' remake lacks originality, fun


---- — Another week of summer, another senseless remake.

This time, the cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classic “Total Recall” gets the total makeover treatment. The result is an adrenaline-packed film completely lacking originality and fun.

Based (as are most sci-fi movies) on a short story by Philip K. Dick, “Total Recall” keeps the bare outline of the original but changes most of the inner workings.

Colin Farrell inherits Schwarzenegger’s lead role as Douglas Quaid, a mildly depressed factory worker who visits Rekall, a company that promises to implant realistic memories of fantastical adventures into his head.

The process goes haywire, however, and Quaid turns into a lethal killing machine with the full force of the government on his trail.

In the remake, however, there is no journey to Mars. Instead, we are locked on a dystopian version of Earth — post-chemical apocalypse — where the only inhabitable areas are the United Federation of Britain and the Colony (i.e. Australia), connected by an extremely cool subway train that passes through the center of the earth.

Unsure of who he is, Quaid is literally torn between his deadly government-provided wife — Director Len Wiseman’s (“Underworld”) spouse Kate Beckinsale, in a much-expanded version of the Sharon Stone role — and sexy resistance fighter Melina (Jessica Biel).

Can Quaid discover his true identity and save the Colony from a hands-on tyrant played by Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”)?

The movie plays like some kind of low-rent combination of a Jason Bourne movie and “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones,” set in a “Blade Runner” world. The pace is kinetically fast, but there’s nothing new, and hardly any thinking involved.

This version has a better look than the original, and where the first one featured cringing blood and violence, “Total Recall” 2012 has more of a bloodless PG-13 approach to its action.

The film lacks any sense of humor though — not a single memorably campy tag line — and the action scenes (here comes Kate Beckinsale yet again) have a numbing sameness after awhile.

“Total Recall” the remake will fade from memory much quicker than its 1990 precursor ever did.

Rental Recommendation: The first “Total Recall” was bloodier and sillier, but more entertaining. Grade: B+.

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