With the number of remakes Hollywood has been churning out over the past decade, I donâ€™t think anyone was particularly surprised when they announced that Arnold Schwarzeneggerâ€™s 1990 action vehicle and Philip K. Dick adaptation was going to be remade. Whilst the original was by no means a groundbreaker, it has become a cult classic, a notable entry in the careers of both its star and director Paul Verhoeven.
The premise of the remake remains the same; a factory worker Quaid (Colin Farrell) visits Rekall, a company that artificially inserts false memories into their clients. As the treatment begins he discovers he is actually an undercover agent and begins the fight to rediscover his own memories. Uncovering that his wife of seven years, Lori (Kate Beckinsale) was actually an agent planted to watch him was a nice twist in the original, but became a central focus of the marketing campaign for this film, featuring in all of the trailers and promos. It seems a shame for those who havenâ€™t seen the 1990 film and may not see it coming, but it does help move the plot along quicker. The action sequences, as expected, are impressive, but there is little identity in this science fiction film to make it stand out. The hover cars echo of The Fifth Element, the dreary backstreets Blade Runner, and whilst the Schwarzenegger version played it for laughs, Wisemanâ€™s tale is a serious one. No one can deny they stuttered a little giggle at the â€œBaby, you make me wish I had three handsâ€ line in the original film, and although the reference to it in this film is a nice touch, it only reminds the viewer of the campness Verhoevenâ€™s film reveled in, the campness that made the film work. Farrell, Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are all watchable in their leading roles, but a lament must go out for the painfully underused Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy: a bit more screen time for them could have certainly benefitted the film. Not only would it let them stretch their sizeable acting muscles, but as the story stands, their characters never really feel enough of a presence for the viewer to align with or ally against.
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The scene in which Quaidâ€™s past is uncovered as he fights off the agents sent to kill him is an impressive action sequence, with smooth camera work and choreography and Farrellâ€™s portrayal of a trained killer with no memory of his skills is interesting. Also watch out for the hover car chase scene that will grab your attention.
There are a few to choose from, but this accolade has to go to Beckinsaleâ€™s revelation as an antagonist. â€œWhat can I say, I give good wife.â€ They may have gotten away with that in the 1990 film, but this film is too straight laced to pull if off!
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