Friday, September 26, 2014

Total Recall (2012)

I tend not to like remakes.  Rarely do they add anything except make it look modern.  In this case, we have two movies based on a short story.  (Both versions of Total Recall owe very basic elements to the story “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick.)  The short story is about a man who comes to realize that there‘s more to his life than what he thinks he remembers.  That’s where the similarity ends.

Here, we have a dystopian future where most of the planet is uninhabitable.  The two remaining areas are the United Federation of Britain and The Colony.  (The Colony is actually just Australia.  Why they couldn’t just call it Australia, I don’t know.)   A man named Doug Quaid is thinking about going to Rekall.  Quaid is a lowly factory worker.  He can’t afford to go on vacation, so Rekall will “remember it for him” as their ad goes.  A coworker warns him not to do it; Rekall has a reputation for lobotomizing people.  Another coworker tells Quaid not to worry about it.  He even recommends one of the technicians.

Well, the implantation goes bad when a SWAT team breaks into the Rekall lab.  Amazingly, Quaid is able to escape.  It turns out that he’s not really Doug Quaid and his lovely wife of several years is actually his handler.  His memories were erased and he was given a new life.  He manages to find out that he was part of a resistance.  People in The Colony are the lower class while the UFB is basically the upper-class people.  The UFB has some nefarious plan that Quaid’s former self didn’t want to see come to fruition.  Or did he?  Either way, it’s up to Quaid to stop it unless he’s not going to, assuming that was the plan all along.  Or was it?

I think this is one of those cases where if you saw and liked the 1990 version, you’re probably not going to be thrilled with this one.  The 1990 version was much better.  We had the issue of identity, which is brought up briefly here.  There’s the issue of what’s real and what’s an illusion, which is mentioned only in passing.  (It comes across mostly as a reference to the 1990 version, but more on that later.)

I remember hearing about the remake and wanting to see it.  I knew I probably wasn’t going to like it as much, but I had to see if they could improve upon it.  Not only did they not improve upon it, I think they even took something away.  Instead of being based on the same source material, this is more of a flashy action remake.  We have the same corrupt leader.  We have the same wife that’s not a wife.  There’s even a three-breasted woman and a comment on the desire for a third hand.  What we don’t have is anything to make you think about the movie.

As I mentioned, there were a few scenes that were referencing the original movie.  Quaid uses the same technology to get to The Colony, which I think was only called The Colony because there was a Martian colony in the original movie.  (Look closely when Quaid arrives in the UFB.  Pay attention to the woman going through security.)  In another scene, Quaid’s coworker is trying to talk Quaid into shooting his fellow resistance member, saying that this is all a dream back at Rekall.  If you’re thinking of seeing Total Recall, I’d recommend skipping this one and just watching the Arnold Schwarzenegger version. 

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