Back To The Future With 'Total Recall' Remake

Kenneth Turan reviews the film Total Recall, based on a story by Philip K. Dick and a remake of another film from the 1990, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Look for a review of the new science fiction epic "Total Recall" and you'll see headlines ready Total Makeover. You might recall the 1990 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. With our review of the remake, here's Kenneth Turan.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: The fun in "Total Recall" is fun while it lasts, it just doesn't last long enough. The action begins at the end of the 21st century. A global chemical war has made most of the earth uninhabitable. The only livable areas center around Great Britain and a large island that looks suspiciously like Australia.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TOTAL RECALL")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Character) Please have your identification documents ready.

TURAN: Because this is the future, workers can commute daily via an enormous elevator-type apparatus called the Fall that hurtles right through the center of the Earth. Colin Farrell plays Quaid, a bedraggled migrant worker. Bored and disenchanted with his life, Quaid decides to get some exciting memories implanted by the helpful folks at a company called Rekall, whose motto is: We can remember it for you. But Quaid's innocent notion that it might be fun to imagine being a secret agent turns everything in his world upside down just as the procedure begins.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TOTAL RECALL")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) None of the secret life elements you chose can actually be true. It would cause irreparable conflict and confusion. It's how brains get blown.

COLIN FARRELL: (As Quaid) Don't worry. I don't have any secrets.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) Get ready to save the world. Happy trails man.

TURAN: "Total Recall" is in permanent chase mode, never slowing down to catch its breath or leave anyone the leisure to think too hard about the tenuous plausibility of what we're seeing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TOTAL RECALL")

FARRELL: (As Quaid) It's your mistake. I'm nobody.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (as Character) Heads on your head now.

TURAN: Director Len Wiseman, best known for the "Underworld" vampire epics, is especially good at making onscreen action really active. Though "Total Recall" starts out fast moving and imaginative, it eventually wears you out. After too many hard-to-follow chases out windows and doors and up and down ultramodern elevator shafts, after too many people saying things like, this is going to sound crazy, our system ends up on overload. There is nothing very futuristic or entertaining about that.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the L.A. Times.

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