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Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy
Director: L Wiseman
Indian Express Rating: **
Ambitious doesn't begin to describe a venture that puts a fretting Farrell in the shoes of the unflappable Schwarzenegger, and that has a "United Federation of Britain" controlling the entire "Eastern Hemisphere (think Chinatown)" as a "colony" sometime in the not-too-distant future.
What comes next shouldn't surprise then. Total Recall isn't a recall of the 1990 Schwarzenegger film, and it definitely bears no resemblance to the Philip K Dick short story that inspired the original movie. Farrell's Douglas Quaid has no real memory dilemmas despite having just realised he isn't a factory worker but perhaps the very best intelligence agent to have walked the earth post "the wars". He just brushes it off and jumps into the fight.
Jump, in fact, is just the word to describe what Quaid does here. Total Recall reimagines the world as split into two spheres, the one inhabited by the elite ("UFB") and the other by the unwashed ("the Colony"). Those from the latter drop down a shaft to reach the other half to work through the earth's core, after clearing numerous security checks and a loss of gravity. If that's a bit difficult to conjure, the Colony and UFB themselves are an odd mixture of towers and shanties, with cars flying overhead, dropping down or hanging in air. Imagine a city made of magnetic legos in a room with particles of iron -- the resultant orderless, shapeless mix would be what the world of this film looks like. Inside the Colony the houses are intricate woodwork, dysfunctional sanitation and modern security gadgets.
Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), who rules the UFB, is raising an army of "synthetics (basically robots)" to take over the Colony. There's a "Resistance" led by Matthias (Nighy). Quaid, who used to be Cohaagen's right hand man, has shifted loyalties to Matthias to save the "innocents" that will die in the "invasion".