"We can remember for you" promises the title of Philip K. Dick's short story on which this Total Recall movie (and the original) is based. My response? Please do! Because there isn't anything here that I WANT to recall.
What made the original Total Recall so great was its fleshed-out characters, over-the-top, gory action sequences, and the masterful way Paul Verhoeven made it all seamlessly come together. So, hollow out the characters (by A LOT), downgrade the action to PG-13 gunfire, and throw the story out the window and presto! You have Len Wiseman's unacceptably boring adaptation of Total Recall.
By now it's no secret: Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the greatest actor in the world, but on the big screen he was always so much fun to watch: the way he threw around the bad guys whilst spewing out those cheesy one-liners that we all love so much. However, with Colin Ferrell there is no tradeoff. He is just boring.
Ferrell brings absolutely NOTHING to the character of Douglas Quaid. He spends the entirety of the movie murmuring his half-hearted lines while continuing to be out preformed by the rest of the talented cast who, surprisingly, do not bring much more to their own characters.
As I mentioned earlier, the action was a key factor in the success of the original Total Recall. It was fun to watch Arnold wreak carnage upon everyone who got in his way. Sadly, Wiseman's idea of action is one dully choreographed chase sequence after another, each one lit up with special effects bullets and climaxing with some dramatic jump. By the end of it all, MY legs were hurting.
Where Verhoeven developed the story over the course of the movie, Wiseman wants to cut the bull and jump straight into the "action" (and I do use that term loosely).
We are given an uninspired metaphor for social separation and fifteen to twenty minutes of Ferrell moping around, blatantly questioning his existence and the routine of everyday life before he starts running around for the remainder of the film. Nothing is developed much beyond that and by the time it hits the "twist" towards the end, we are just supposed to believe that we just endured a psychological thriller. It's kind of insulting.