The first half- hour is thrilling, especially if you have never seen or cannot “recall” the original 1990 version with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone. Not for lack of supreme effort Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel were unable to generate enough interest to illicit a modicum of empathy from the audience. Possibly, it was the condensed script (at its most loquacious, barely three pages), or the massive inundation of recent sci-fi films, or the placid predictability of the outcome.
Farrell is confused, confounded “Douglas Quaid”, plagued by nightmares (neglected to mention it is 2084); huge memory chasms, working in a monotonous job, making mannequins of mass destruction. He goes to “rekall” (futuristic poetic license) to fill in recollection lacunas and perhaps create a new persona; during this process things go awry; Quaid is on the run, overcoming vicissitudes at the herculean level, until evil is felled and good prevails, etc.
The major anomaly of “Total Recall” was at the end of the twenty-first century cars function both vertically and horizontally; cell phones are embedded in one’s hand; robotic officers are ubiquitous but the world resembles East Berlin of the 1950’s; shells of gothic churches, barely an echo of past resplendence; clothes hung outside to dry, withering on sunless porches; wars have been fought, but the victors destroyed the “spoils”; gloom and detritus prevail; anyone would crave forgetting, recalling a more optimistic, edifying era, (circa 2012).
In conclusion, if one is avoiding pondering foot surgery, hip replacement or acupuncture “Total Recall” might cauterize the inevitable for a brief time; otherwise, you would be better served by reading Dostoevsky, Silva, or E. L. James.