BY JENNA SIMPSON
I’m a sucker for a sci-fi action movie. I wouldn’t really identify myself as a sci-fi fan per se, however, because I don’t really read sci-fi. Exception: Philip K. Dick. And Total Recall is based on one of his short stories, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” So, of course, the film adaptation would be at the top of my list of sci-fi action movies to see.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the basic conceit is memory removal and substitution. The title refers to a company in a futuristic dystopian world that can upload to your brain the memory of an experience you’ve never actually had. Say you’ve always wanted to try skydiving, or dreamed of being rich and famous. Total Rekall (the company) can provide you with the memory of having done these things. Pretty neat, really. But not for our hero, who discovers a whole other set of memories and skills waiting in the recesses of his mind.
Colin Farrell is kind of perfect in this genre, particularly since his character’s storyline revolves largely around being confused and physical. Jessica Biel is fine here, but the real ass-kicker in this pic is Kate Beckinsale. Beckinsale has lots of action movie chops from the Underworld series, but I’ve never seen her quite so, well, relentless. She just Never. Stops. Coming. It’s pretty impressive.
The movie is high on visual effects and well-choreographed fight scenes, but lacks the emotional energy that would facilitate a greater connection to the characters. The first half of the movie is tight and explains the somewhat complicated plot setup quite well, but the second half is a bit messy. Ultimately, I didn’t really care so much about what happened to the characters as what the next special effect would be, and whether it would involve Kate Beckinsale kicking someone’s ass.
On the whole, Total Recall is pretty entertaining. I don’t remember the original so well, beyond the three-breasted woman, who makes an appearance in the remake as well, not to worry. But even if you haven’t seen the original, if you like sci-fi action movies, particularly ones that explore interesting philosophical questions as all of Philip K. Dick’s stories do, it’s certainly worth a couple of hours on a snowy winter’s eve.