Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a factory worker making synthetic robot policeman. He is disenchanted with his life despite his beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) and good buddy Harry (Woodbine).
Mind you, Quaid’s daily commute would be enough to test even the toughest road warrior. Travelling across or rather through the earth from “The Colony” formerly Australia, to UFB (United Federation of Britain) via the “Fall”, a transport system that literally traverses through the planet. Including a period of weightlessness during the mid core section, which presumably plays havoc with your WIFI connection.
Deciding his hum drum daily life needs a shakeup, Quaid eventually finds his way, via an infamous three breasted lady to “Rekall”. A place where your mind can be implanted with memories of your choosing. Be a world famous athlete, leader of the world or super spy, the choice is yours. In some ways this makes sense, what we have from holidays is memories so why not save the time and hassle of actually going, just implant the experience direct into your brain.
As expected, Quaid chooses super spy and before you can say “please insert credit card”, the SWAT team arrive and gun everyone down, including the unfortunate “Rekall” staff, which may just be an occupational hazard. Quaid reacts not by cowering and hiding in the corner but takes them out like a seasoned pro and promptly escapes. Dream or reality, this is the basis for the movie and it’s a good one, loosely based upon the book “We can remember it for you wholesale” by Philip K. Dick of “Bladerunner – Do androids dream of electric sheep” fame.
The remainder of the film is essentially a chase or “being chased” film and draws in the president of UFB “Cohaagen” (Bryan Cranston), together with his nemesis Matthias (Bill Nighy) and Merina (Jessica Biel) from the “resistance” or “freedom fighter” side. There are many twists and turns and the film makes good use of the premise of what is real and what is not, right up to the conclusion.
Obviously this version will be compared to the Paul Veorhoven directed Arnold Schwarzenegger film, this is considerably less gory, using the evisceration of synthetic cops to yet again outwit the censors and gain the lower certificate.
All the main players are fine, Farrell makes a believable worker bee and special forces killer albeit with less screen presence than Arnie. Both Biel and Beckinsale make great cinematic fighters and obviously in the looks department, add what is required for a teen male fantasy film. The effects are cutting edge, the robot policeman appearing like “new” Star Wars stormtroopers with additional “menace pack”.
So what is missing, perhaps the film lacks a heart. From his return home the film never catches its breath, not that anyone choosing the film is expecting Shakespeare but it would be a change for the characters to talk to each other occasionally. There are only so many fights and car chases that one can squeeze into a movie after all, although this film disproved this theory. Bill Nighy, a great character actor appears almost as a cameo, a criminal waste of his talents.
The film would have benefited from some introspection, juts a few moments of quiet where the motivations for the next “shootemup” could at least be contemplated. Otherwise, this is classic example of an audience just not caring about any of the characters, this will always detract from the action, especially one firmly based on CGI or blue screen work.
An adequate sci-fi thriller, that adds little to the genre.
Fun and certainly action packed but operating at the very shallow end of the genre, which is a wasted opportunity with such thoughtful and provocative source material.