This Week at the Movies

'Total Recall' is an unnecessary remake, while '360' is a multi-character drama with some decent performances, but no unifying theme.

Len Wiseman's remake of "Total Recall" moves at a rapid clip and includes a few decent action set pieces, but otherwise has no reason for existence.

This is not a criticism of the picture, which is perfectly adequate. But why did anyone feel the need to remake a 22-year-old film that was above average for its genre and then suck all the humor and campy elements out of the story that made the original compelling?

This new version of the film, which substitutes Colin Farrell for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kate Beckinsale for Sharon Stone, is yet another in the long line of deadly serious action movies that have populated cinemas this summer.

In the film, Farrell is Quaid a factory worker who lives in The Colony, an impoverished futuristic slum that is controlled by the wealthier mainland England.

Quaid has been having strange dreams involving a woman (Jessica Biel), so he heads to Rekall, a place where patrons can plug in and engage in all manner of life-like fantasies. Quaid is hoping his visit will help to explain his bizarre dreams.

Instead, he finds himself tangled up in a web of intrigue in which he is a secret agent working for a resistance group that wants to overthrow the tyrannical British government and his wife is a spy who is attempting to kill him.

The film is loaded with chase sequences, explosions and shoot-outs, all of which are skillfully done. But the film is an unnecessary remake meant to cash in, rather than improve upon the original.

Fernando Meiralles made a splash nearly 10 years ago with his stunning "City of God" and followed it up with an impressive adaptation of John Le Carre's "The Constant Gardener." His third picture, "Blindness," was a critical failure and his latest, "360," is only a moderate improvement.

The film follows a series of stories taking place on several different continents that occasionally intersect. But unlike "Babel," for example, Meiralles's latest lacks a unifying theme, drawing together a handful of stories revolving loosely around troubled relationships and romantic missed opportunities.

In one tale, Jude Law walks away from a liaison with a Slovakian prostitute to reconnect with his wife (Rachel Weisz), who has a young Brazilian lover. In another, Anthony Hopkins flies to the United States to find out whether a corpse that has been found is his estranged daughter. On the way, he meets a young Brazilian woman, who finds herself at danger when she puts the moves on a sex offender (Ben Foster) who has just been released from prison.

The film's other stories follow a Russian criminal and his driver as well as the sister of the prostitute in the film's first story.

Hopkins gives the film's best performance, especially during a scene where he unloads during an Alcoholics Anonymous-style meeting. And the film is a good looking one with solid cinematography by Adriano Goldman.

But the ties between the multiple stories are weak and "360" lacks a central theme. The film plays as a series of scenes - some interesting, others not so effective - in search of a structure. It's not a bad film, but it lacks the explosive energy of Meiralles's debut.

"Total Recall" is playing at AMC Loews Bay Terrace 6 and Douglaston's Movie World. Click here for the Fandango page for both theaters. "360" is screening at Manhattan's Sunshine Cinema.


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