Total Recall tells the story of Douglas Quaid, (Played with great charm by a beefed up and sober Colin Farrell) a discontented factory worker living in The Colony and who has been suffering from dreams of being on the lam with a mysterious and beautiful woman.
His stunning and understanding wife (Kate Beckinsale, star of the Underworld film franchise and Wiseman alum) insist they are dreams and nothing more, but Quaid is haunted by the meaning of them or if they have meaning at all.
The world of the future is one of despair, the earth falling to ruin with hardly any inhabitable land left to sustain life. There is the United Federation of Britain and The Colony which once was the great country of Australia. Factory workers such as Quaid live in the overcrowded projects that populate The Colony, making the commute daily through the Earth's core to the UFB in a super speed bullet train. This doldrum way of life drives Quaid to visit Total Recall and by doing so unlocks a brainwashed memory of being a double agent for both the Resistance and for the ruthless chancellor of the UFB, Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).
Wiseman's Recall has some pluses over Schwarzenegger's original but some minuses too. The casting of Farrell, Beckinsale and Jessica Biel as Melina, the woman who haunts Quaid from his dreams to what may or may not be reality is perfect for the three-way chemistry of the actors and the characters they play ignite the screen and drive this somewhat lackluster retelling. Setting The Colony on Earth instead of Mars is also an interesting twist but much of this film just doesn't get into one's mind.
The set design for The Colony, a perpetually raining world lifted straight from Ridley Scott's 1982 classic Blade Runner will leave viewers wondering if accidentally they stumbled into yet another director's cut of Scott's film of which there are many.
Gone too is the struggle for the audience to decided if they're watching reality or a dream, brilliantly making us change our minds time and again in Verhoeven's original with Wiseman only hinting at the dual realities, playing it straight forward for the most part as truth.
There are some great asides for the fans of Arnold's version such as the fat woman trying to get through security and others that will amuse but more than not, fans of the original might leave the theater feeling indifferent. However, if one is young enough not to have seen the original will most likely be singing it's praises.
The great fight scenes between the three main stars of Wiseman's Total Recall and the pace of this 118 minute thriller saves it from being a memory we'd all like to forget. The future for Total Recall isn't as bleak as it is for the characters that inhabit The Colony but just one that most likely will soon fade from our thoughts and memories.
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and language.