Thursday, September 25, 2014

Total Recall (1990)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Douglas Quaid is a relatively boring man.  He works in construction.  He doesn’t really do much aside from go to work and go home.  He does have a rather attractive wife, played by Sharon Stone.  Lately, he’s been having these strange dreams about a mysterious brunette and has developed an itch to go to Mars.

His wife isn’t too big on the idea.  There’s not much to do there and the political instability doesn’t make for a safe trip.  After all, Mars was colonized basically to mine material.  Yes, they have things to do, but it’s really not much of a resort destination.  He considers a company called Rekall, which specializes in fake vacations.   It sounds nice, but one of Quaid’s coworkers advises against it.  He heard that the lobotomized someone not to long ago.

Despite the coworker’s advice, Quaid checks it out.  They have the ability to implant memories of any trip you want to go on.  For a little extra, you can assume a different identity, such as a spy or a millionaire.  They will even give you some trinkets to take home as souvenirs.  Sounds great.  Quaid signs up.  Problem is that he starts freaking out, saying all sorts of crazy stuff.

He eventually escapes only to find that nothing is as it seems.  The aforementioned coworker tries to abduct Quaid at gunpoint.  It also looks like his beautiful wife was actually sent there to keep tabs on him.  Plus, Quaid may really be someone named Hauser.  Quaid finds a metal briefcase with all sorts of money and documents.  There’s also a message from Hauser telling Quaid what to do in case someone comes after him.  He’s to get to Mars and look for some members of the uprising there.

There’s one small problem:  Cohaagen, the CEO/dictator of Mars, is after him.  Quaid has some information that Cohaagen doesn’t want getting out.  It could hurt Cohaagen’s hold on power.  His company does supply a lot of material to Earth.  It would be a shame if he lost it all.  Cohaagen sends some of his hired guns after Quaid, but Quaid manages to make it to Mars and meet the woman that he was dreaming about.

I remember first seeing this a long time ago.  It’s one of those movies that seems to hold up on later viewings.  It’s one of those movies that you can watch several times and see it different ways each time.  The big theme is reality versus perception.  Did Quaid really get his fake vacation or did it go horribly wrong?  If it was fake, how was it that Quaid was already dreaming about the woman he met?  Yes, it could be that he had dreams about some random woman and the fake vacation simply incorporated it, but there are a lot of other clues that would indicate that the trip was imagined.

This is not a movie for small children.  For starters, it’s very violent.  When Quaid goes nuts in the Rekall lab, he kills and/or injures most of the staff there.  When Cohaagen’s men go after Quaid, they will shoot anyone in the way.  (Quaid even uses one of the casualties as a shield.)  According to IMDb, the death count is somewhere around 73.  Many of the deaths weren’t incredibly bloody, but there are a lot of deaths.

Another thing that you might want to know about before viewing the movie is that Mars has all sorts of mutants.  This comes from the fact that Mars has no natural atmosphere, thus letting in all of the radiation that causes our DNA to change rapidly.  Many look freakish, but you do end up with some interesting mutations.  (It seems that a lot of people remember the prostitute with three breasts.)

I bought Total Recall through iTunes to watch while going on vacation.  (My parents and I were going from Miami to the Tampa area and back, so I had some time on my hands.)  The only reason I bought it was that it was on sale.  I could definitely see watching it again with someone else in the near future, though.  It doesn’t seem that long at 113 minutes.  I’d definitely recommend watching it. 

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