In Total Recall a factory worker discovers he’s a spy and then the spy he becomes wonders if he’s nothing more than the fevered fantasies of a deluded factory worker. Yet it’s not the psychological quandaries of Douglas Quaid which make this movie so engaging, it’s the technological marvels of the futuristic world which surrounds him. Nothing Quaid does can compare to the amazing special effects director Len Wiseman has him fighting his way through. If only Quaid’s story had been as creatively and carefully constructed as his environment, this might have been one of the best remakes of all time. Instead it’s just a lot of fun, a wild romp that’s sort of like a futuristic Bourne minus the tortured, sympathetic persona of Matt Damon’s better spy character.
Of course if you read any of the movie’s advertising propaganda you’ll be told that this Total Recall isn’t a remake of the well-known and much beloved 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of the same name. In theory, this movie is only based on the same source material (Philip K. Dick’s acclaimed short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”) and not on director Paul Veerhoven’s film. But the similarities between the two films are too great and the differences between them too superficial for the Colin Farrell starring edition to deserve the title of reboot. The new Total Recall is a lot like the old Total Recall and that means no matter what anyone tells you, it’s a remake and not at all a reboot.