Bringing the summer movie season to a close with a dull thump, this lethargic adaptation of a Philip K Dick story remoulds one of the great action movies of the 90s into a vapid allegory and a bunch of repetitive chases.
The 1990 version of Total Recall had several things going for it: truly groundbreaking visual effects, by the standards of the day; proper, full-on brutality from director Paul Verhoeven, who revelled in excess while retaining a knowing sense of the film's ridiculousness, and a star about to reach the peak of his powers in Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As unnecessary retreads go then, this is up there with the most futile, draining all the fun and colour and neutering it to a 12A certificate while a troupe of dreary actors run around trying to understand the ludicrous plot.
Like the original did, it extrapolates Dick's short story, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, from something that barely left a couple of rooms into its own mythology, this time set in a future where most of the planet has been made uninhabitable, with Britain and Australia the only territories that remain.
In a daffy conceit that serves to introduce the film's lumbering themes, downtrodden workers live in Australia and commute to Britain via a tunnel that runs through the earth's core. One such worker is Colin Farrell's Doug Quaid, who lives an ordinary life with his wife (Kate Beckinsale) but has dreams of something more. Looking for excitement, he goes to an agency called Rekall, who can implant memories to make a person think their fantasies are real. But the implant clashes with what seems to be an existing memory for Quaid, that he's already a secret agent embroiled in a vast conspiracy, and soon everyone, including his wife, is trying to kill him.
At first this seems as though it's determined to be its own beast, with a different drive to the plot that ditches the Mars element. But it soon settles into a sometimes scene for scene rehash that makes comparisons with the original, however unwanted, inevitable. And as a result, again inevitably, it suffers.
So while it often tries to tread its own ground, frequent references serve only to alienate fans and bore and confuse newcomers. Attempts to up the ante on gags from the original, like the tracking-device-up-the-hooter, are constrained by the certificate and come off poorly.
Things quickly settle into the most joyless and monotonous action beats imaginable, with pedestrian sequences that are as slick as they are soulless. For all the gloss that modern effects can bring, they offer no weight or texture, and the cartoonish chases and bloodless shootings soon grow tiresome.
Adopting the grimy Eurasian neon-noir of Blade Runner, it's certainly a good-looking movie, albeit a very grey one. But the vast computer-generated effects swallow up the actors as it descends into a convoluted, hard-to-care plot, especially by the time of the nonsensical finale.
Rekall might be able to remember it for you, but you'll have forgotten this by the time you leave the cinema.
Running Time: 118 mins
Director: Len Wiseman
Berberian Sound Studio (15) It makes a lot of noise, but this tale is too taxing for viewers
Gilderoy (Toby Jones) is a British sound engineer who travels to Italy to work on a film in what looks like the 1970s.
Out of his comfort zone and out of his depth, he is put to work as a sound recordist to get all the noises of witchcraft and screams and splattery sound effects for the lurid horror being made.
For a while this provides a fascinating look in to the world of sound recording, some of the techniques used, and the huge amounts of fruit and veg gone through in the making of a horror movie.
But about a third of the way in you start to wonder if there is any more to it, and this is where things start to go off the rails for Gilderoy and us, as the intensity and unpleasantness of his job starts to take a toll on him.
It is hard, though, to get a handle on just why this is, and Gilderoy's unravelling mental state leads to developments that would confound David Lynch.
So although it is a highly original piece of work that is odd and sometimes unsettling, Berberian Sound Studio is much too impenetrable to fully work.
Running Time: 92 mins
Director: Peter Strickland
Samsara (12a) Heavenly images in spectacular places
Filmed all around the world over the course of several years, this frequently stunning documentary is simply a kaleidoscope of images taking in nature and human achievement, often Far Eastern in focus.
With places of worship figuring highly, we visit some of the most spectacular places on earth, from volcanoes to the lights of traffic and cityscapes, from the aftermath of a natural disaster to prisoners doing a dance routine.
With no voiceover or context the images have to speak for themselves, and this is certainly the case.
Speeded up, the footage takes on a hypnotic quality, as thousands of people at a mosque create what looks like a human vortex, and food preparation on a massive scale becomes strangely captivating.
Bursting with colour and teeming with life, it provides sights both astonishing and bizarre, and although it can sometimes get a bit weird and off-track, with indulgences in performance art, it is not long until another mesmerising sequence comes along.
Running Time: 102 mins
Director: Ron Fricke
A Few Best Men (15) Wedding comedy does not have a funny ring to it
If you have ever wondered what a low key, sitcom-style Australian version of The Hangover would look like, then here it is.
Much to the dismay of his mates, a British guy is marrying an Australian girl and moving Down Under, which is where they all head for the stag do and the wedding.
Light on energy and largely unamusing, if this is meant to be raucous it certainly does not come across as such, with the supposed mayhem caused by the best men more like minor mishaps.
Like The Hangover, we do not see what happened on the stag night, but the aftermath involves a ram in a bedroom and a disgruntled drug dealer.
After a shaky start things pick up marginally, with one or two well executed visual gags, and best man speeches that are worth a chuckle.
But spare a thought for poor Olivia Newton-John as the bride's mother with a taste for elicit substances.
Running Time: 96 mins
Director: Stephan Elliott