Review: New 'Total Recall' slicker but soulless
This film image released by Columbia Pictures shows Colin Farrell in a scene from the action thriller "Total Recall." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Michael Gibson)
Colin Farrell replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger in the new version of "Total Recall," and the smug sense of campy meanness that made the original 1990 film feel so muscular and grotesque gives way to a vibe that's slick, shiny and deadly serious.
Seriously, this movie has no sense of humor — there are maybe two jokes, both of which are callbacks to the first movie. Farrell doesn't get to utter any corny one-liners as he rips off a bad guy's arms. And maybe this is good, this attempt at reinvention. It certainly makes director Len Wiseman's film move more energetically and efficiently, at least until the repetitive and overlong ending: a barrage of anonymous automatic gunfire and heavy-duty explosions.
This film image released by Columbia Pictures shows Jessica Biel , left, and Colin Farrell in a scene from the action thriller "Total Recall." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Michael Gibson)
Both films are super violent — Paul Verhoeven's came with an R-rating more than two decades ago because, well, he's Paul Verhoeven — but less seems to be at stake in this latest version. Farrell is certainly a better actor than Schwarzenegger and he's capable of far more emotional complexity, but Schwarzenegger was better at conveying a sense of panic and fear, of discombobulation. You actually felt for him as he struggled to piece together his past and tried to determine whom he could trust. Farrell is confident and competent regardless of the situation; there never seems to be any real threat of him coming out alive.