I've often lamented the early death of sci-fi genius Philip K. Dick back in 1982.
But it might be a good thing that he's not around to see "Total Recall," the latest adaptation of his work.
Dick is the prolific writer whose prescient tales spawned "Blade Runner," "The Adjustment Bureau" and "Minority Report," along with lesser-known films like "Next," "Paycheck" and "A Scanner Darkly."
This film image released by Columbia Pictures shows Colin Farrell in a scene from the action thriller “Total Recall.”
"Total Recall" was inspired by his short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" - and by the award-winning 1990 Schwarzenegger film of the same title.
I haven't seen that earlier film, but it has to be better than this one.
Colin Farrell plays a factory worker in a future world that's been wiped out by nuclear war, leaving only two habitable areas - Britain and Australia.
The London government keeps most of the populace oppressed in miserable jobs, while fending off a resistance movement that seeks freedom and equality.
Farrell's Doug Quaid eventually discovers that, thanks to false-memory implants, he isn't who he thinks he is; in fact, he has ties to the resistance - and once he realizes this, Quaid becomes public enemy No. 1.
Dick's trademark use of shifting realities - the notion that what you think is real has merely been fabricated - paved the way for movies like "The Truman Show," "The Matrix" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
The new "Total Recall" only flirts with these ideas; once or twice it gets frustratingly close to some truly mind-boggling plot twist that would upend our assumptions - only to veer swiftly off in some more conventional direction.
Far too much of the action centers on running and punching, and the plot is predictable even for those who haven't seen the previous film.
Worse yet, it's loaded with logical absurdities, such as a transit system that runs through the core of the earth from Australia to London.
In 17 minutes.
Um - that's about 30,000 miles an hour; and yet in one scene, people are climbing around on top of the thing as it moves.
Farrell is decent despite lame dialog, as is Jessica Biel; on the other hand, poor Kate Beckinsale is given little to do but glower, which doesn't comport with her famous good looks.
And Bryan Cranston's cardboard villain serves only to accentuate the subtlety and nuance of the writing in his better-known vehicle, "Breaking Bad."
Indeed, the only reason to see this film is Patrick Tatopoulos's gorgeously detailed and thoughtful visuals.
The veteran production designer ("Godzilla," "Independence Day," "I, Robot," "I Am Legend") has generated a multi-layer urban sprawl that deliberately recalls "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report" while also featuring plenty of its own clever intricacies.
As with the notion of synthetic reality, it's a shame all that brilliance is wasted in a lunk-headed movie whose tedious action scenes unwittingly recall Shakespeare's "Macbeth":
Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.