Douglas "Doug" Quaid is a factory worker suffering from violent nightmares who is deeply unsatisfied with his current life. As a solution, he visits a corporation called Rekall, which can implant artificial memories of a life he never lived. The procedure triggers what he believes are latent skills and memories from a life that was erased, leaving him unsure who he is and what side of the conflict he's really on.The film has less gore and gruesome imagery than the original, but also takes itself more seriously.
This film provides examples of:
Adaptation Induced Plot Hole: In the original Total Recall (1990), there was a perfectly legitimate explanation why Hauser had to have his memory erased and take on the Quaid persona, because Quato, the leader of the resistance was a mutant who could read minds, and could easily detect an undercover spy therefore. But in the remake, the leader is just some standard normal guy without any mind reading ability, thus eliminating the need to erase his memory, and making the whole premise of the film rather faulty.
After the End: Following a series of wars, the only parts of the world not rendered a biohazard wasteland are the United Federation of Britain (a chunk of Europe controlled by Britain) and the Colony (Australia).
Amnesiac Dissonance: Doug is a factory worker ground down by life. His previous personality? Not so much.
Artistic License - Physics: "The Fall", a massive train that runs through the earth between Europe and Australia, is capable of making said run in just over fifteen minutes (which means a minimum average speed of ~32,000 miles per hour). However, the heroes have no problem breathing, moving, climbing outside the train and fighting on top of it.
Even more implausible is the idea that it has been built through the center of the Earth, most of which is liquid/semi-liquid magma and thousands of degrees Celsius. How does one build something that can withstand that kind of temperature and resist being crushed by the entire mass of the Earth?
Almost as if to make this even worse, the movie explicitly states in the opening that "The Fall" is the only means possible to travel between Europe and Australia. Somehow it's possible to achieve an engineering miracle like building an elevator through the center of the Earth, but it's become impossible to fly or sail across the Earth (despite the movie showing that traveling and living through these dead zones is still possible).
The Earth has been stated to be mostly uninhabitable due to global chemical warfare. If this were true, then air currents would have inevitably carried these gasses across the habitable zones at some point. Not to mention, chemical weapons degrade at incredibly quick rates, and the idea of these zones being uninhabitable for so long is ludicrous.
Artistic License - Geography: Mathias' base is apparently located in the "dead-zone" of London, an uninhabitable area made deadly toxic during the wars that no one visits and is only accessible via disused tube tunnels. The problem is that the presence of the Telecom Tower reveals this location to be only about 1.5 miles max from Big Ben, which is seen to still stand (albeit over-shadowed by massive floating skyscrapers) in the habitable zone.
A-Team Firing: Semi-averted by the Synth soldiers. With the exception of Cohaagen's custom bodyguard, none of the synthetic soldiers seem to have much in the way of targeting programs and they always miss the heroes. They do shoot at least a half dozen innocent people on accident though.
Bulletproof Human Shield: In Doug's first fight with the Federal Police, he grabs one of the troopers and holds him as a shield while he shoots the rest of the squad. Justified in that the troopers are wearing body armor.
Chekhov's Skill: A fairly neat example in the final fight, Hauser's elite hand-to-hand combat moves prove utterly useless against Cohaagen's Synth bodyguard. However, Quaid's training as a factory worker allows him to disassemble the Synth's power supply and shut it down.
His ability to stay calm and act methodically during a gravity switch due to frequent Fall trips also comes in handy.
The Dragon: Lori more or less fills the role, due to being the most seen UFB agent. The black Synthetic could also count, due to capturing Doug in the opening flashback and being the one he fights brutally during the final fight.
Dragon Their Feet: Lori doesn't participate at all in the final fight, and ends up outliving Cohaagen by a couple of scenes. Then she decides to make one final attempt at killing Quaid and gets killed for her trouble.
Elevator Action Sequence: Two or more depending on how you count. There's a fight sequence halfway through the film that takes place in and around a 3D "turbolift" system. The climax takes place on the seventy-story through-Earth "Fall" elevator, and features a zero-gravity gunfight.
The UFB in general seems to be playing this trope, with many other UFB personnel being British and their capital being London.
False Flag Operation: Cohaagen engineers a series of bombings that he blames on the Resistance, in order to justify building more and more Synthetics, until he has enough to mount a full-scale invasion of the Colony.
Everything the Rekall boss says about the Rekall 'secret agent experience'.
Gambit Roulette: A lot of Cohaagen and Hauser's master plan comes across as overly complicated and dependent on luck, although a large part of this is due to the gambit being triggered prematurely by Quaid's visit to Rekall.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Though played straight later, Cohaagen shows signs of this by personally shooting the rebel leader Matthias almost immediately after detaining him
Getting Crap Past the Radar: You know that three-breasted woman? You get to see her flash her boobs onscreen in a PG-13 movie. Which, of course, only happened because all three are fake.
Imposter Forgot One Detail: Lori impersonates Melina in the last scene, only for Doug to notice that she's missing the bullet wound scar on her hand.
Keystone Army: Cohaagen's Synth army apparently has a global shutdown code which is the big secret stored in Quaid's head that the Resistance needs. However, it turns out there is no global shutdown code; it was all a ruse by Cohaagen and Hauser to entrap the leader of the Resistance.
Leave Him to Me: In the finale, Cohaagen decides to confront Quaid himself.
Mecha-Mooks: The Synthetics. The movie is somewhat original in that they're used more as bulletproof Elite Mooks rather than guilt-free disposable cannon fodder).
Mind Screw: Averted. Imagine if the last scene had been Quaid waking up in Rekall with them asking, "So, how was it?"
The Mole: Quaid/Hauser, though it's not that simple. While Hauser, the original, is the one who engineered the "mindwipe" plan in the first place and was thus a double agent, Quaid joins the resistance both out of agreeing with their cause, and because they aren't the ones shooting at him.
A number of them; the 3-breasted hooker, "I don't know, I just work here", the "two weeks" woman, the severed arm scene.
Like the original film, they cast an actor who had previously been best known for playing hapless Sitcom Dads to be the ruthless Big Bad. Unlike Ronny Cox, though, Bryan Cranston was already playing Walter White on Breaking Bad when this movie was made.
Doug mentioning that he'd like to go to Mars.
No Ontological Inertia: According to the news-reader at the end, with Cohaagen dead and the Fall destroyed, it's now a new era of liberty for the people of the Colony.
Or Was It a Dream?: Sadly, this adaptation is missing most of the ambiguity on whether the events actually happened, except for Hauser/Quaid noticing the mark tattoed on his skin between his arm and forearm during his visit to Rekall was missing and a single glance at a billboard for Rekall right before the end.
Schizo Tech: They can drill a huge tunnel through the center of the earth, but somehow they can't get a couple thousand troops to Australia the old-fashioned way.
Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Quaid eventually sides with the Resistance partly after seeing how bad they have it, and also because the UFB police and soldiers are constantly shooting at him.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Lampshaded by Lori when she reveals her true nature to Quaid, asking if he really thought a girl like her would ever really be married to a guy like him (although Colin Farrell is hardly ugly, and it's more along the lines of Quaid's status as a low-level factory worker coupled with living in a dump of an apartment.)