In the year 2084 Doug Quaid, a construction worker on Earth,
is haunted by dreams of another life on Mars. Obsessed with
the red planet, he visits Rekall Inc to have artificial memories
implanted into his brain, but during the process another personality
comes to the surface. Who is he? What happened on Mars? And
why is everyone trying to kill him...?
a self-styled "intelligent action movie", Total Recall
is a curious mixture of the intellectual and the mindless.
script, based on story by a Philip K Dick, raises questions
of identity and the reliability of memory. Though the latter
part of the film is conventionally viewed as a traditional
"good versus evil" story, there are clues to suggest that,
as Dr Edgemar (Roy Brocksmith) claims, Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
is experiencing a paranoid delusion. Years before The Matrix
came along, Edgemar offers the hero a red pill, symbolising
reality. The events that transpire on Mars are prefaced by
subtle references before Doug undergoes his Rekall treatment.
The white light at the end of the movie could denote the dawning
of a new age for Mars, or it could signify the brain death
of the lobotomised Quaid.
way you look at the film, its hero is a fiction. Either Quaid
is real but is dreaming that he is the hero, or he is a false
identity grafted on to the mind of Hauser.
perhaps such nuances are too subtle for the average viewer,
and they are offset by various factors: a cheesy closing line;
the fact that there are several scenes in Quaid's supposed
dream that do not feature Quaid himself; Schwarzenegger's
limited acting range; and director Paul Verhoeven's love of
with the human shield in the escalator scene, the metal bar
in the technician's neck, the mining machine that gouges chunks
out of Doug and Melina (Rachel Ticotin), and various characters'
eyeballs bulging out, Total Recall can turn even the
hardiest of stomachs, and is not to be watched during your
of the gore and visual thrills are also just plain silly.
When Quaid returns home after being attacked for the first
time, he switches off all the lights and then grabs his wife
Lori (Sharon Stone) by the shoulders. Then he shows her that
his hands are covered in blood. Why didn't he leave bloodstains
on the light switches or on Lori's shoulders? When he removes
the bug from his brain, how can a sphere that big possibly
pass through his nostril? Contrary to popular belief, depressurisation
does not make the body expand and explode. And even if Mars
was given a breathable atmosphere, its sub-zero surface temperature
would be too cold for Quaid and Melina to survive unprotected.
Perhaps the alien reactor also heated up the air. On the other
hand, maybe this is all just evidence for the "dream" theory!
my earlier criticism of Schwarzenegger's acting ability, he
does have his moments. After he has killed several people
hand-to-hand for the first time, you can see the "What have
I done? What's happening to me?" look on his face and in his
posture. He is well supported by Ronny Cox, who virtually
reprises his villainous role from RoboCop, Michael
Ironside, who would work with Verhoeven again in Starship
Troopers, and Sharon Stone, whose breakthrough performance
here led to the director casting her in Basic Instinct.
There aren't that many special features on this so-called
special edition, certainly not enough to justify two discs.
Just over an hour of documentary features plus two audio commentaries
all tread much the same territory (such as the excellent use
of the Mexican location and the fact that the script had been
knocking around for years with various actors and directors
attached to it) without a tremendous amount of detail. And
none of these features is less than four years old (reflecting
the release date of the Region 1 edition).
is clear that the commentary by Schwarzenegger and Verhoeven
was recorded prior to Arnie's retirement from acting to focus
on politics. However, you can detect a hint of his political
loyalties when he remains conspicuously quiet during some
environmental anti-Bush comments by Verhoeven. The other commentary
is by the Dutch cinematographer Jost Vacano, though English-speaking
viewers will need to watch the subtitles to follow that.
its relative lack of extras, this DVD is good value for money.
The film itself is a landmark of technical genius, with a
story that bears repeated viewing.
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