The premise of Total Recall is that if you feel you live a boring life, you can go to a sort of spa and have some jazzier memories implanted in your brain, memories of a more exciting life.
Well, who wouldn’t want that? Probably all of the 99 percent. It’s the same impulse that has most of us 99-percenters spending our hard-earned cash on Lotto tickets.
“If I had a million dollars, life would be great.”
“If I had better memories, life would be great.”
If you go see the very fast, very loud, very dynamic, very cartoony-violent Total Recall remake, starring the very handsome Colin Farrell and the very pretty Kate Beckinsale, you will feel like you were hit in the face with a brick for two hours, and your life will be great. That is, if you enjoy getting hit in the face with bricks.
This action-thriller is based on Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. Rekall is a company that turns dreams into real memories, whatever that means.
Assembly-line worker Doug Quaid (the very handsome Mr. Farrell), who works for The Colony, wants a better life even though he is married to the character played by the very pretty Ms. Beckinsale. He’s just not satisfied. He goes to Rekall and “has some work done.”
He picks “secret agent” memories, but the procedure goes kaflooey. Quaid suddenly finds himself on the lam, running from both synthetic and human police.
He doesn’t know anything, but he has a strong suspicion that he should probably stay out of the clutches of one Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), who seems to be at the bottom of all the mess.
Quaid can’t trust anyone, with the exception of a very pretty rebel fighter (Jessica Biel), who works for the top dog Mathias (Bill Nighy) of an underground resistance group called—The Resistance.
The Resistance is, among other things, resisting the proliferation of the Synthetics, who will replace people in jobs. Quaid is seriously confused by everyone and everything. Will he discover the truth?
There’s a lot of ascending and descending in a massive elevator contraption to get to The Colony, as well as a nightmarishly congested city, a million flying cars and buses, futuristic thousand-dollar bills, and a million crashes and explosions. It is a tremendous amount of brick-in-the-face time.
Quaid’s loss of memory, along with the discoveries that he possesses certain behaviors and abilities that seem distinctly secret agent-like, appears to be straight out of the movie The Bourne Identity. It’s been argued previously in these reviews that all action-thrillers since that movie have been “Bourne-ified,” and Total Recall is no exception, even mimicking “Identity” in plot.
There are three other movies that this remake seems to borrow heavily from. One is Blade Runner in terms of the film’s heavy, dark, dreariness and opening shots of rain-drenched futuristic cityscapes. Another is the first Recall, which it pays homage to in subtle ways. Finally, the cars in the film are reminiscent of The 5th Dimension.The movie’s epistemology (the philosophical category regarding how humans know anything) is off-the-charts silly blather. After considering the brain, it talks about the heart—“The heart wants to live in the present.” That’s not bad.
Hopefully, seeing Total Recall will convince us to resist having our memories tinkered with, avoid getting hit in the face with bricks, live in the present, not worry, and be happy.
Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine
Running Time: 100 minutes
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