Part of me really wanted to like this movie. I'll admit to watching the first Total, in all its cheesy, triple-boobed glory, and enjoying it, but I always do like to see serious takes on silly concepts. Quite often I find them intriguing. This movie, however, was not.
I'd rate it as a "meh" at best. And it didn't have to be that way.
Okay, fair warning, if you still want to see this movie then don't read on as I'm going to drop some major spoilers from here on in. Read on if you dare.
Still here? Okay then. I was actually digging this movie for a good portion of it, and it has some real strengths. It never felt like it was plodding along. The pacing was good, the action scenes were well shot (with one major exception which I will cover) and the acting was pretty good. Not to the level of Oscar gold, but hey, it's an action flick so what do you expect.
No, the problem with this movie is it started hitting some of my pet peeves in sequence, one right after another. I could forgive one, maybe two, maybe even three if there's enough good stuff to distract me, but Total Recall didn't have enough going on to save it for me.
First pet peeve, lens flare. A little bit is okay and could be overlooked or tolerated, but when you have a few scenes with Star Trek (the new movie, not the old ones) then it starts to pull me out. The cool futuristic apartment building with white walls and glass, lens flare okay. The grubby subway tunnel filled with resistance members, not so much.
Second pet peeve, punching robots. Sigh. Why do action heroes think that punching the combat droid that doesn't feel pain and is made of much sturdier materials then them is a good idea. Aside from the fact that in real life it would leave the hero with broken knuckles, after awhile it just really starts to look moronic. Using leverage and momentum to knock the droid off the elevator you're standing on, cool. Punching it in the face, not cool.
Basic understandings of physics. Okay, one of the really cool concepts in this movie is an elevator that travels through the earth from Australia to Great Britain (trust me, it makes sense in the movie and is not something I have a huge problem with). While it does stretch the bounds of believability, it can be overlooked. What cant be overlooked is this: if it takes 17 minutes for that sucker to go from one side of the Earth to the other then it's gotta be moving at a good clip, and should be in a vacuum tube to reduce air friction at the very least. If not, then the wind-shear when the sucker is going should be really nasty. So nasty in fact, that the hero should not be able to go out side and climb down while the friggin thing is moving! Gah!
It may seem like a small thing but on top of the things mentioned above it was the moment when Total Recall lost me. At that point I could see the strings, and film-makers, you never want the audience to see the strings. Once that happens you've lost suspension of disbelief and every thing on the screen will start to be questioned.
What's worse, as I said earlier, is that up until that point I was really enjoying the movie. The homages to original were slid in well and not jarring. If you knew what to look for they were there and didn't detract from what was going on. And the parkour chase scene at the beginning of the movie was awesome, and same with the hand-phone some of the characters had.
All is all, the was a cool movie that just had some major flaws the ruined it to the level it rates a meh. It wasn't Three Musketeers bad, but neither did it rise to the level of Avengers awesome (a movie that had it's own physics flaws but that didn't pull me out of the movie because there was enough going on I didn't have time to notice them, further proving Joss Whedon is a freaking genius).
My recommendation is wait till it comes out on video or TV if you really need to see it, though you'd miss the triple-boobed hooker on TV.