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Total Recall

Forget about Mars, mutants and thick Austrian accents: Hollywood has remembered Total Recall for you, but not wholesale. This sleek, earthbound update—engineered by Underworld director Len Wiseman—plays more like a loose remake of several Philip K. Dick adaptations. Instead of a red planet, there’s a rainy, noirish metropolis where Blade Runner’s Deckard would feel right at home. Automated automobiles and glowing holograms evoke Minority Report, while this new version’s disguises shimmer and squiggle like the “scramble suits” of Richard Linklater’s underrated A Scanner Darkly. The malfunctioning fat-lady suit that Schwarzenegger donned in the original? That’s so 1990.

Of course, for all the movie’s cosmetic changes and cross-franchise echoes, the main source of inspiration here is still the Paul Verhoeven picture. (Take a breath, die-hards: The three-breasted hooker makes an appearance.) A much more believable everyman than Ahnold, Colin Farrell steps into the role of the thrill-seeking civilian who discovers he’s really a memory-wiped superspy. Racing to uncover his true identity, our fugitive hero bolts from one surprisingly well-staged skirmish to the next, with Kate Beckinsale’s relentless undercover agent (an amalgam of Sharon Stone’s and Michael Ironside’s characters from the first film) hot on his tail. Wiseman’s Total reboot won’t betray your fond memories of its iconic predecessor. But those hoping for a real head trip—a truly cerebral Dick adaptation—will have to keep waiting.

Follow A.A. Dowd on Twitter: @aadowd

Release details

Rated:PG-13
Release date: Friday August 3 2012
Duration:118 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Paul Verhoeven, Len Wiseman
Screenwriter: Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Gary Goldman
Cast: Marshall Bell
Sharon Stone
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Michael Ironside
Rachel Ticotin
Ronny Cox
Colin Farrell
Bryan Cranston
Kate Beckinsale
Bill Nighy