Taking an alternative plot meaning it respected the original and delivered an adequate, yet not significant film.
The man who directed Underworld and Underworld: Evolution Len Wiseman who also went onto produce those other Underworld films is in the chair today. I have only seen the first one and I didn’t think it warranted three sequels, but I hear it has a good fan base and generates healthy money so no doubt the fifth is already in the works. Although his work to date is largely overwhelmed by Kate Beckinsale’s vampire fighter Selene, he also directed Die Hard 4.0 which I have yet to get round to seeing.
Where does the plot go for this remake of a often considered arnie classic? Well Douglas Quaid is kept (In fact all essential characters are) and from visiting Rekall, the company responsible for giving its clients fake memories, he starts to believe he is a spy. With the earth now left in the brink of destruction only two territories remain The United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (formerly Australia). Workers travel from the Colony to UFB everyday but with the powerful Cohaagen in charge of UFB Quaid must go on the run.
What was great about the original (not dismissing all those cheesy Arnie puns) was the sci-fi elements that are often used as inspiration, I’m mainly talking about the Mutants we experience. Those freaky prosthetic beings are what I can remember best from the film and this in conjunction with the Mars setting made for a good sci-fi flick. Most of this is dropped for this remake though (apart from a cameo from a famous mutant woman) and to be honest whilst it offers nothing new, I’m glad it didn’t go all out to recreate a film that has a fairly large cult following. Although it is a Sci-fi the Action Adventure elements here are fair heavier, all creating to Bourne like action sequences.
So for the characters (which as I mentioned are the same from the original) and the actors playing them. Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a similar character to Arnie’s, only with a lot less of those cheesy lines that everyone loves so much. As mentioned in my review of In Bruges Colin Farrell was an actor I have failed to be convinced by, however since I watched his performance as Ray I can see his ability. As for his performance here it is perfectly fine, the character is given enough development but those that have seen the original will be more familiar with him, even if he is slightly different. Then comes Lori Quaid (Kate Beckinsale) it seems Mr Wiseman cannot get away from Underworld and so his main lead is giving a role here. Unfortunately she is the weakest character and indeed performance of the whole film. Whilst the cheesy lines she is given might well be there for fans of the original, it all felt very out of place (Especially without that heavy Austrain accent) made all the more annoying as she has this terrible dialogue in between looking annoyed and running. I’m sure with a stronger character I wouldn’t be picking up on this so much, but it really was weak.
Now onto the other female lead Melina (Jessica Biel) this is the sleeker and cleaner version of the Melina in the original. We learn very little of her throughout the film (and its best I dont explain the bits we do learn for avoidance of spoilers) she is basically the only person offering help towards Quaid and indeed the love interest. Though her Career has followed a similar path to Beckinsale’s I have a higher opinion of her acting abilities, her best performance probably coming in The Illusionist. With a fairly generic character she delivers an adequate performance and I was perfectly fine with this despite the very obvious stereotypes her character shows. There are a few other roles worth mentioning, firstly Cohaagen played by man of the moment Bryan Cranston. I am a fan of Breaking Bad and love his performance as the brilliant Walter White. In this case it’s a little strange casting in my opinion, whilst it makes sense due to his new found extreme fame, the type of character didn’t fit his face. Cohaagen played by Ronny Cox looked evil but Cranston didn’t quite fit, however we at least got to see his miffed off face that he does so well in Breaking Bad. Lastly or rather ghastly we get a cameo from Bill Nighy who plays Matthias the leader of the resistance against Cohaagen’s reign. I simply don’t like Bill Nighy, I’m alright with an actor taking on a specific type of role but Nighy’s droning voice leaves me drained of all my concentration as much as he seems to be drained of all emotions.
In this remake I took the alternative plot spin as a positive and despite this meaning it turned into a generic action adventure let down by some weak characters I found enough enjoyment in this film not to get too annoyed. Its nothing spectacular and the original is a better film but considering it is a remake I was left feeling far more relaxed than other films that have recreated cult classics.