Total Recall is ostensibly a remake of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1990 Total Recall, but it really isn’t. In essence, they took the key moments from Arnold’s film, stole images liberally from Minority Report, I Robot and Phantom Menace, and then mixed them with a generic chase film about a nondescript right-wing government wanting to kill immigrants for no apparent reason. The result is painful to watch. Arg.
Bored with his job, Quaid goes to an
When Arnold Schwarzenegger did Total Recall in 1990, I found myself quite impressed. Not only was Total Recall a competent action film, but it was also an excellent science fiction film which left you with lots of things to think about. What is memory? And how can you tell hallucination from reality? What would colonizing Mars really be like? Will we find massive machines left by ancient civilizations?
These were all fun questions that you could debate for hours or even days after you left the theater. And debate you did: did you notice that the false memories the Recall guy discusses match what happens in the film exactly? Don’t you remember the Recall guy saying, “Blue sky on Mars? That’s original.” But wait! Why would that guy sweat if it was all a dream? Or was that just Arnold’s mind trying to preserve the illusion? And if they could put him into Arnold’s dream, couldn’t they do something else that Arnold would know for sure is not real? Or would Arnold just assume that anything they do was a trick?
But even that could be forgiven if this was a decent film, only, it’s not. This film is one long pointless chase scene that makes little sense and to which there is no sense of a solution except “wait for the chase to end and then the cliché ending to sort everything out.” Indeed, at no point do you feel like anything is happening in this film except time passing as you wait for the ending. Moreover, little about the film makes sense. If the bad guy really wants to invade the Colony, there’s no reason he couldn’t do it with or without first stopping the resistance, so the plot is a pretext. There is no point in making Quaid hide as a factory worker with no knowledge of what he really is either, nor is there any reason Beckinsale wouldn’t know who he really was.
Even worse, to pass the time, this film is jammed with all kinds of political stupidity. Obama’s face on their currency? Give me a break. That’s not even clever if we’re talking about the future USA, and we’re not – this is a future Britain. I wonder if Putin is on their coins or Bobo the Clown. How about the idea that Britain wants to kill their workforce for no apparent reason? Talk about stupid. That only makes sense in the paranoid delusions of leftists.
Secondly, this film shows exactly what’s wrong with modern Hollywood. This film stole the key moments from the 1990 version of Total Recall, which should have been enough to give the film at least some of the same appeal as the original. But they mishandled those by turning them into nothing more than speed bumps in the chase scene... moments that appear, resolve, don’t affect the plot, and then are forgotten as the film races on to the next videogame level. I lay the blame for this firmly on studios who are so out of touch with the public that they don’t realize that in a film about the reliability of memory and the blurring of reality with fantasy, audiences expect the story to have something to say about those things rather than just watching our hero run around blowing up police robots and Froggering his way across an unrealistic elevator system... the Big Shiny. Sadly, this is how studios think now and the result is a film that has better effects, better actors, better sets, a bigger budget, and the benefits of hindsight, but can’t hold an LED candle to the original.