It's a remake that didn't need to be made. Except it's not. The 1990 original, very loosely based on a Philip K Dick story, is a classic. This Total Recall is sort of loosely based on both and rather surprisingly, it works.
It's the end of the 21st century and it's all kinds of post chemical warfare horrible out there kids. Two bits of planet Earth are habitable, the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (Australia). All the wealth is in Britain (yay!) and all the workers live in the Colony. They travel to work in UFB factories on a sort of giant elevator that passes through the centre of the Earth. Sorry, it's ridiculous, but cool as fuck. The Colony is brought to life brilliantly, like Hong Kong on speed. The UFB is all gleaming tower blocks, London buses and flying cars. Aces.
Colin Farrell is Douglas Quaid, the man with the mixed up memories and the sense things aren't quite as they should be. Let's be honest here, as brilliant as the Arnie version is, it's nice to have an actor leading the movie. Kate Beckinsale is Quaid's wife/nemesis and she's particularly great in her relentless pursuit of her 'husband'.
The story of terrorists, rebellions and double dealings is strong enough to hold the movie together and it races along at a decent pace throughout. There's enough nods to the original to keep the fanboys happy but this is a decent second stab at fleshing out Dick's short story. The set pieces look fantastic, a chase on foot through the Colony is a treat for the eyeballs and there's an epic flying cars chase with robot drivers that works way better than it could have in the wrong hands.
The end is a bit odd. It still works, but it's not quite as explosive as it might have been, the film ending on a bit of a damp squib.
Total Recall though is a nice surprise. A remake that does its own thing and it's def worth taking a punt on.