Total Recall

Reviewed by Lamar Kukuk

The 1990 summer blockbuster Total Recall was very much a product of a unique collaboration between master of excess director Paul Verhoven and the star who helped to invent the modern Bigger Is Better blockbuster, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Taking a Philip K. Dick story as its inspiration, Recall gave us outrageous gore, classic one-liners, and a whole lot of extremely creative sci-fi violence. Big-budget genre flicks are rarely so daring these days (Verhoven’s cult classic flop Starship Troopers has to shoulder some of the blame for that), but Recall’s rights holders have decreed a remake, and director Len Wiseman and writers Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback have reshaped it into an entertaining megabudget B movie that is amazing around the edges (Patrick Tatopoulos’ Production Design is a wonder to behold, and there are some great villainous supporting performances) and perfectly OK down the middle. Fans of old-school excess can consider this the divorce, but Total Recall is a fun futuristic action flick.

Years after chemical warfare left most of the Earth’s surface uninhabitable, the only countries where humans still life are Great Britain, home to the upper-class and Australia, now known as The Colony, where the poor are compressed into overpopulated squalor while waiting for their daily ride to work on the other side of the planet via a massive public transportation system called The Fall. Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) works at a factory that builds law enforcement drones being mass-produced to battle Colony separatist terrorists led by Matthias (Bill Nighy), but lately he’s been haunted by dreams of another life, as a freedom fighter by the side of Melina (Jessica Biel). His wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) suggests he “get some better dreams” and he takes her advice literally, going to a company called Rekall that uses technology to implant memories of adventures that never happened. Problem is, Rekall will fry your brain if you attempt to add memories of things that really happened to you, and while Douglas doesn’t know it, his super-agent fantasy matches memories hidden deep inside his brain. Police storm the building and before he knows what’s happened, he’s killed them all with previously unknown talents. Suddenly everything IS a spy adventure, his wife is an assassin trying to take him out, Melina is back in his life, and British Federation Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) is taking a very personal interest in his case. Is this real… or is it Rekall?

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