Total Recall a flop compared with Arnie's original, say critics

Aug 3, 2012

New version of 1990s hit disappoints those who recall Arnold Schwarzenegger's moody original

A REMAKE of the 1990 sci-fi action thriller Total Recall, in which actor Colin Farrell reprises the role made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger as a former spy who has his past erased and replaced with fake memories, has left US critics underwhelmed after its premiere this week.

The new movie, which like the 1990 original was adapted from Philip K. Dick's short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, features Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy and is directed by Len Wiseman.

While the makers insist it is not a remake or a reboot, but a new film, critics seem unconvinced. And it's the comparisons with the earlier film, directed by Paul Verhoeven, that have left them feeling disappointed.

If it wasn't for the 1990 movie, says A.O. Scott in The New York Times, this sci-fi film "about a guy on the run and the two slender, combative, black-suited women who may or may not love him, might have been forgettable on its own terms".

There are seeds of an interesting economic and political allegory in Wiseman's film, says Scott, but the ambitions of the film-makers "lie in the direction of maximum noise and minimum sense".

Christy Lemire  of the Associated Press found the film soulless and humourless. It's a slicker production than Verhoeven's original, says Lemire. There's "lots of stunning, dystopian, sci-fi eye candy", but it "struggles to find its soul".

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times compared the new film to "a drug that starts with a rush and ends with a headache". After too many hard-to-follow chases scenes, and people saying things like ‘this is going to sound crazy', our systems end up on overload. "There is nothing very futuristic — or entertaining — about that."

One critic just wanted to relive his own memory of the past. "Where's Arnold when you need him?" asks Justin Craig for Fox News. Craig urges viewers: "Recall the original."

Those harking back to the heyday of Arnold Schwarzenegger needn't despair. The Guardian reported last year that the former action hero, and one-time governor of California is planning to release his autobiography this October. It will be titled Total Recall.

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Who actually believes Colin Farrell is an actor anybody wants to see? Skipping this movie.