I have always been a huge fan of the original 1990 version of Total Recall. Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, being one of the key elements of entertainment in that film. Also, the special effects and direction, make-up, and true sci-fi feel to it, are classic in my mind.
This remake is not that bad at all. There are some major differences from the original Veerhoven version, but the main theme of memories and identity are maintained.
How did Colin Farrel do trying to fill the mammoth shoes of Arnie in this role? He did an admirable job, in my opinion. Sure, he didn’t have the charisma or unintentional comedic effect Arnold had, but he really grew into the confused double agent role very well.
Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are also to he commended for the jobs they do here. Certainly the ease they are to the eyes help a little, but comparing them to the actresses from the original film, results in more than satisfactory performances. Beckinsale’s character in particular seemed to play a much larger role in this remake than Sharon Stone did in the original, although it must be said, she and Colin Farrel lacked much of the fun chemistry Arnold and Sharon shared in even less screen time together in the 1990 version.
There are some significant differences from the original. For one, Mars doesn’t factor into it much at all. Secondly, many of the cool and memorable special effects from the original i.e. Kuato, are missing. The three-breasted woman is in there, but at a different point of the story, and the famous airport scene with the Quaid disguised as the fat woman is also in there, although with a slight twist that is clearly a loud wink to fans of the original film.
Overall, Total Recall is an entertaining, big budget action flick, set in a future time that doesn’t quite have the same classic sci-fi feel of the original and lacks many of the characteristics that made the original a fun, memorable flick.