Let’s get to the point, the Arnold Schwarzenegger version of Total Recall is better than this new one with Colin Farrell. I have to admit I never read the source material by Philip K. Dick that both films are based upon. So I judged this film on how it compares to the 1990 version and the level of satisfaction I get from watching it.
The original sci-fi classic is superior because of Schwarzenegger’s forceful type A personality, which is both abrasive and appealing at the same time. He has action-motivated comedy timing, delivering lines with a unapologetic Austrian accent. That movie had your classic Schwarzenegger lines and Arnold’s nature blended perfectly with Paul Verhoeven’s stark vision of the future. It was easy to buy that Schwarzenegger’s character of Douglas Quaid grew into a freedom fighter, he was someone you could cheer. In the new version of Total Recall, Farrell’s character is more of a scared loner and less heroic. It’s largely the same premise, a bored factory worker in the future tries to have exciting memories implanted into him but learns he’s some kind of super spy and involved with a wide conspiracy with everyone out to kill him including his wife. On a side note, one of the few things I liked about this Total Recall were the two main women. Kate Beckinsale (Quaid’s wife) and Jessica Biel (his lover Melina) are incredibly attractive and captivating.
The new film also lacks Verhoeven’s cynical humor that made the first one so memorable. Gone are the mutants and the Mars setting. Although we do get a few nods to the original such as the three-breasted hooker and that old lady that was really Quaid in disguise when he arrives on Mars that kept saying “two weeks,” makes an appearance. But I found myself missing Mars, it made the original film seem more massive and epic. Another thing missing is a memorable and powerful soundtrack that the original had. I can’t even remember the score to this new version of Total Recall but to this day I can clearly remember Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack for the original film.
The production design in the new Total Recall is spectacular to look at. The transportation system used to travel between two cities on opposite sides of Earth was really interesting. Basically in this version, Earth is a toxic, uninhabitable wasteland except for two cities (The United Federation of Britain and The Colony-formerly Australia). The only way to travel is to use a gravity elevator that actually goes through the planet’s core. It reminded me of that great underrated gem The Core. As a passenger approaches the center of the planet the gravity reverses since the elevator is headed to the opposite side of the world and the chairs in the elevator have to rotate. Several interesting scenes take place in this setting and was one of the film’s few highlights.
Some of the other future tech was also neat to look at. For example, they use phones that are imbedded into palms and the robot police that pursue Quaid were really cool and would’ve fit in perfectly with Verhoeven’s Robocop.
But this film lacked Schwarzenegger and it suffered; it just wasn’t very interesting. There was not enough comedy relief- or compared to Schwarzenegger, not enough signature comedy by the leading actor. I don’t blame Collin Farrell though; Arnold is one of a kind. I knew Total Recall was in trouble because of the fact that I fell asleep twice while watching it. Even Ice Age: Continental Driftis a better film than this one. So IOW, (using a thick Austrian accent) “Get your ahss back to Mars.”—at least, on blu ray or DVD- with the original Total Recall.