Total Recall (12A)
It's back to the future for this sci-fi thriller, based on a Philip K Dick story though made famous in 1990 when Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as the hapless hero whose mind has gone Awol.
In this heavy-duty remake, Earth has been reduced to a neon-lit punk dystopia whose prole population work for something called The United Federation of Britain, located at the opposite end of the planet.
Colin Farrell plays a discontented drone married to a raven-haired beauty (Kate Beckinsale) but haunted in dreams by Another Woman (Jessica Biel) whose fate may be entwined with his own. A visit to fantasy-facilitating agency Rekall blows an accidental hole through his consciousness: it seems he's not an ordinary working stiff after all but a vital cog in an anti-government insurgency, and pretty soon he's running for his life.
Design-wise it's a slicker, smarter-looking beast than the garish 1990 film – not the last on Paul Verhoeven's CV – and Farrell does a more expressive job in the lead than Arnie ever could. But for all the huffing and puffing orchestrated by director Len Wiseman it remains weirdly frictionless.
Dick's dark visions of corporate treachery, depersonalisation and control have gone though the script mincer and emerged in a flavourless puree of fights and chases. It's frenetic but dull, non-stop but non-exciting.
Bryan Cranston, peerless star of TV's Breaking Bad, is criminally wasted as the evil chancellor, while Bill Nighy as the leader of the underground resistance is the most egregious bit of miscasting this year. There is simply no universe in which Nighy would be thought fit to lead a resistance.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West