Largely eye-candy and no substance, the intensive film takes no breather in bombarding its audience with blatant action set pieces and makes no effort in storytelling. Seemingly more keen in making every production cent to excite over incite, Len Wiseman leaves little or no space for imagination less some eye-catching concept designs and visuals. Total Recall goes bang-bang-boom, the audience goes what-the-hell?
Total Recall is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police - controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world - Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.
There's so little sense in this film less its conceptual designs and effective visual effects. Total Recall is loud, tense, and vigorous with action sequences that it has totally forgotten to recall its narrative intentions.
Or the lack of it.
Action fans will rejoice, for the action scenes range from urbanscape chase scenes to mass mechanical destruction. It should most definitely satisfy the hardcore genre fan and perhaps even the occasional sci-fi fan with all the futuristic gadgetry, droid security armed forces, and magnetically propelled automobiles. While some of the concepts showcased are imaginatively intriguing, the over-saturated action subjects the audience's senses (or rather what's left of it) to infinite dumbing and nullification.
Len Wiseman knows how to please the producers and the investors. No one does it better. Colin Farrell's character Douglas Quaid never rests right after he encounters the controversial "three-boob" lady. That's right, he gets on the move (mostly with aggressors behind him in pursuit) and never slows to question why.
Because he's so afraid that the lack of a good plot will be exposed.
With a synopsis that says that the world has been mortally stripped to merely two major living space in the form of 2 continental territories, it is a total stunner to see the filmmaker not making any statements out of it. While attempting to establish the class-status distinction between the two (with Britain being the higher and Colony being the lower), the sociopolitics did not take off. Instead, the film dwells its focus upon the only transportation mode between the two territories known as "The Fall".
Once "The Fall" has been established as the vital linkage between the two territories, nothing else matters as the rest of the screentime devotes itself to repetitive action that takes place without much rationale. Several plot pieces just take place before the audience without much explanation and Wiseman addresses it by stupifying his audience's senses with aural and visual pollution.
Lots of it.
Kate Beckinsale did as much as she could with her written role as one of the antagonists, though her writers did not do her a favour to detail what drives her in relentlessly going after Farrell's character. Is it her job or something personal, or even a vendetta? Beckinsale expands her souless role with a fair amount of menace. Jessica Biel appears to have the easier role in playing the love interest of Farrell, although she does get to enjoy a significant amount of screentime running around with Farrell.
Total Recall is remade after the 1990 original, but it is beyond this opinion to comprehend the justification of the remake. It seems difficult to deviate away from the impression that Wiseman has simply received an action epiphany and is on a mandate to get it out of his mind.