Exploding heads, cheesy one-liners, bulging eyes, Johnny Cabs, nose excavations, and mystical conjoined twins. There was a lot to like about the original Total Recall. This version gets rid of all of that "personality" and seems to be representative of what studio films seem to think we want----a story that used to have something unique and intriguing about it, changed enough to seem worthy of redoing, but lacking any real oomph of its own past special effects and cool stunts. There's plenty of bright, shiny stuff to look at and impressive punches and kicks, but the movie never gets fun.
Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a factory worker longing for something that's just outside his understanding. He has a home, and a nice wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), but whatever is hovering on the edges of his thoughts, beckoning to him, is just too quiet and elusive for him to put a finger on. Like all wanderers do, he seeks excitement in a questionable way by visiting the Rekall center, which sends you on a virtual vacation. When the poor Rekall workers start attaching electrode thingies to his head, it all starts to go horribly wrong, and all of a sudden Douglas realizes he knows how to kill people and do parkour. It doesn't go unnoticed by the bad guys in town (how could it, when Colin Farrell kills about a hundred of their men in a matter of minutes?). Douglas realizes his whole life is a lie constructed by the bad guys to make him forget all the dangerous things he knows that could throw them out of power.
If you have to remove yourself from the confines of your sweltering home for some air conditioned relief, this movie will suffice. There are fantastic, seamless effects of a Blade Runner-type world that looks completely different than our own. People have cell phones implanted in their hands (with the only problem being what do you talk on to ignore your manicurist?). You can also exhale, because one of the few things that carries over from the original is the chick with three breasts. Whew. The cops and cars look vaguely borrowed from I, Robot but that's fine, because they all looked cool back in 2004 too. But the only thing that nabbed me about this movie were the visual effects.
The changes they made to the story weakened everything outside of the visual elements, though. With exception of Beckinsale playing the hired-wife role and doing some spectacular fighting (as usual), I knew very little about anyone else in the film. As is usually the case these days, I didn't care about any of it. Melina (Jessica Biel) was some kind of badass with some kind of history with Douglas, but other than that, she just looked good in cargo pants. That's all I got. Douglas seemed to fight for whatever his instincts told him, but when it came to the climax of the film, I didn't really get the sense that the masses were in danger (he had no reason to scream "Give da people de air!"). The rhythm was just action, bad guys mumble something vaguely threatening, running, action, good guys try to get a plan together, running, more action, etc. Nobody's eyes bulged out, but Colin Farrell did take a knife to his own hand and ride in a flying car. This is just the usual soulless update to a slightly stupid but memorable film.