Recalling and Re-Imagining
Chemical warfare has lead to the destruction of the planet with only The Colony, Great Britain and Australia, surviving, connected by a gigantic underground tunnel which transports workers across the Colony. Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is one such worker who builds enforcer robots for the UFB which keep law and order in the Colony. But Doug despite having a good marriage to Lori (Kate Beckinsale), a police officer, has been suffering from troublesome and incomplete dreams where he along with the sexy Melina (Jessica Biel) are trying to escape from some sort of government facility. Desperate to bring an end to his disturbed sleep Doug visits Rekall, a service which will implant memories for you with the plan to have them help complete his dream by inserting a secret agent memory. But something goes wrong as it seems Doug is already a secret agent and doesn't know it leading to him being hunted down by various people.
As a teen during the 80s I grew up on Schwarzenegger movies and have always enjoyed them even when they weren't good, so it isn't much of a surprise when I say I liked the 1990 version of "Total Recall". But I know that Schwarzenegger's "Total recall" was far from perfect and I imagine any teenager who watched it now would find it a cheesy experience with the corny dialogue, surprisingly cheesy special effects with only maybe the woman with 3 breasts grabbing their attention. So in truth "Total Recall" was the ideal movie to remake for a new generation, re-imagining the storyline so it isn't a weak like for like copy whilst trying to grow it up for modern audiences who don't want corny cheese in their action movies.
With that all said I actually like this new version of "Total Recall", gone is the attempts to be techno impressive with glitzy sets and in place is this vision of a world in collapse where a service like Rekall has that look of a grubby back alley operation. Also the switch from having Douglas dreaming of Mars to some mystery prison like facility on Earth also helps to give this version of "Total Recall" a reason to exist beyond Hollywood running out of ideas. In fact there are some good ideas in this re-imagining which also pay homage to the original and yes we do have the recreation of a woman with three breasts although far too often it reminded me of a futuristic "The Bourne Identity".
But like with Schwarzenegger's "Total Recall" this version has issues and the over indulgent use of lens flare is not only annoying but totally cheesy. It is a seriously annoying gimmick which for some reason directors have been employing and rarely does it actually add anything to a movie with in this case it detracts by being a distraction. Then there is the casting of Colin Farrell who actually does a nice job but ironically when he is getting attacked by Kate Beckinsale I actually wanted Beckinsale to win and she looks much more capable that Farrell in the action scenes.
What this all boils down to is that this 2012 version of "Total Recall" is in truth on par with the 1990 version because it thankfully re-imagines a lot of it whilst still playing homage, delivering the action and making us wonder whether Doug is an agent or whether it is all a dream. But it has issues with the most annoying being the ridiculous use of lens flare which in many of the scenes had no reason to be there.