Topping off a summer of reboots, remakes, and reunions is Total Recall, a reimagining of the 1990 sci-fi thriller—itself loosely based on a short story by science fiction legend Philip K. Dick. The earlier film starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid, an unsatisfied, late 21st-century construction worker in search of adventure. He gets a memory implant of a vacation to Mars—only to accidentally uncover his true past as a rebel-hunter on the Red Planet. The powers that be, whom he double-crossed, pursue him throughout this fast-moving, casually violent film (punctuated by Ahnold’s trademark Austrian-accented one-liners). In the new film, Quaid (played by Colin Farrell) goes into the memory clinic for a dose of excitement and comes out realizing he’s really a superspy. This time, Quaid is caught not between two planets but between Earth’s future superpowers, Euromerica and New Shanghai, and their agents: his once-devoted wife (Kate Beckinsale) and a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel). Rather than emulate the original’s campy tone, Total Recall redux aims for sleek action sequences and stunning dystopian scenery. In theaters August 3.
Sci-fi’s #1 Muse
Philip K. Dick’s reality-warped stories have inspired a dozen films. As with Dick’s writing, though, the quality varies widely.
Guided by psychics, a police unit stops murders before they happen—but then the force’s captain (Tom Cruise) is fingered as a future killer. This dark film splices big-budget action with meditations on free will.
Harrison Ford stars as a bounty hunter charged with disposing of fugitive androids. The film is often credited as the first sci-fi neo-noir, where latter-day Sam Spades pilot flying cars.
We just can’t get behind the screamers, the automated angels of death that drive the plot of this low-budget flick. When they drill through the ground toward their targets, they come across not so much as fearsome killing machines, but as peskily persistent moles.
An engineer (Ben Affleck) has his memory wiped after spending three years on a top-secret project. The movie’s endless chase scenes blur together as the feds and his former employer pursue him on trumped-up charges. Viewers risk losing two hours from their own memories.