For all of the mind games played in “Total Recall,” the sets and the gadgetry are the best things about this revisiting.
That could be a problem if you’re looking for something a bit deeper, but I wasn’t, so I was mostly satisfied.
Colin Farrell plays a factory worker, Douglas Quaid, who lives in “the colony” but works in the United Federation of Britain, building police robots with his pal Harry (Bokeem Woodbine).
Now here comes the cool part: They commute via a massive elevator that travels through the center of the Earth to the other side. Now ignoring the laws of diminished gravity and the Earth’s core temperatures, they become weightless at the Earth’s center, but then the entire structure inverts for the second half of the journey. How amazing is that?
Some physics nerds back East have calculated that, if it were possible, it would take 42 minutes to travel the nearly 8,000 miles to the opposite side of the world through its chewy, molten midsection. You’ve got to admit, that would be very cool — at least for a while.
Then it would turn into a daily drudge like it does for Douglas Quaid, who is looking for something more in his life.
This is when he turns to Rekall for a mind-journey escape from reality — some mental R& R, if you will. However, before he can tune in and drop out, warning lights flash, operators panic and an army of police officers descends.
Somehow, he’s some super-spy action figure with a suppressed memory who instinctively springs into action and mops the floor with a dozen armed men. Just as suddenly, an embedded cellphone inside his hand comes to life (our second cool gadget and something my daughters would truly love) to alert him as to whom he should contact next.
Instead, he heads home to his hot pretend wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), who is actually an undercover officer for the Federation (as he’s about to discover).
Another woman he’s had dreams about, Melina (Jessica Biel), is someone he cares deeply about (or so he thinks) in his other life, if only he can live long enough to reconnect with her.
Here’s where we discover that the leader of the Federation (Bryan Cranston) is trying to ferret out an underground resistance movement led by Matthias (Bill Nighy). Just what part does Douglas Quaid play in all this remains the big question.
The various worlds look like a step up from “The Minority Report,” with flying magnetic cars, holographic signs and advanced weaponry.
The film’s pace is never dull, with lots of chases, shootouts and that mesmerizing elevator. In fact, the plot takes a back seat to the bang and boom action. So this is definitely not a deep-thinker type of movie.
Yet, “Total Recall” was entertaining, had a stunning array of visual effects (including the three-breasted warbler from the first movie) and the ever-present mind games. So, to me, it was enough. No Arnold required.