Sunday, August 5, 2012

"The Fall enslaves us all": the Film Doctor's one-sentence review of Total Recall

There comes a point when you're sitting through a recent science fiction movie such as Total Recall (but also Lockout and the frighteningly painful In Time come to mind) when the handsome young couple evade the most recent round of machine gun fire through the horizontal and vertical elevator complex as they jump off of buildings, cower under tables, and face massive stand-offs with numerous SWAT teams pointing machine guns at them from outside in the hover-car parking lot, and all you can think of is the eventual inevitable heat death of the universe, intergalactic burned out entropic debris (rocks, ash, the occasional bolt) floating apart into the infinite reaches of cold silent space, whereas in 2012, on the burnt-out drought-ridden post-Dark Knight blockbuster-wannabe tail-end of the summer, one gets one's afternoon of one's short short life uselessly distracted by only partially explained movement on a screen with Colin Farrell's character Douglas Quaid not knowing what the hell he's doing in this ersatz Blade Runner multi-ethnic cityscape, saying things like "If I'm not me, then who the hell am I?" and "Everyone seems to know me but me" (even though he incongruously possesses a kick-ass secret agent skillset such as the ability to quickly bloodlessly PG-13 kill a roomful of anonymous jackbooted riot police masked goons, fly jet-cars, and evade a comely Kate Beckinsale (alias Lori Quaid) who made me giggle with every appearance she makes as the angry villainess (she gets lots of screentime since she's married to the director Len Wiseman, and, really, who can blame him?)), but Douglas doesn't remember his earlier savior-of-the-dystopia self, which makes the whole movie rudderless and confused even as it provides another example of unearned heroism for 16 year old guys in the audience to emulate, so I brood upon the implausibility of the planetary subway (known as the Fall, with the OWS-esque Resistance chanting "The Fall enslaves us all") as it drops through the earth's molten core for a Chunnel-esque commute between the only two living spaces on earth, the Colony (slum Australia) and the United Federation of Britain (the rest made uninhabitable by global chemical warfare (or at least you have to wear a gas mask)), as the screenwriter Kurt Wimmer makes half-hearted jabs at the fascist tendencies of the Bush administration for using color codes to ratchet up the populace's fears of "terrorists" as the corrupt pseudo-Republican politician Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) pulls out a knife (?!) for some late-inning mano-a-mano hand-to-hand combat backlit by explosions, rain, burning, crackling, CGI machinery, and phalanxes of I, Robot-esque policebots looking on since no one can seem to find a killcode to turn them off (with Melina (a confused Jessica Biel) firing indiscriminately at most everyone from her hovering policeship) in this remake of a 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle that at least had the anti-commercial daring to suggest that the entire movie was an illusion brought on by a clinic that sold artificial memories--no, no such luck now 22 unenlightened years later since the craven suits at Sony Pictures determined that we're clearly incapable of taking in such ambiguity; no, wait, Douglas has passed out again and we can see a Rekall advertisement on a building in the distance, and perhaps it's all a paranoid dissociative psychotic break--something we movie viewers badly need, bored by so many futuristically derivative instigations of excitement.






11 comments:

Craig said...

and yes he said yes I will Yes.

Ray Pride said...

Heh : ∞

Jason Bellamy said...

This made me want to see the movie more or less. I'm still not sure which. But I loved this.

alleyandthemovies said...

Such a suck movie; such a great review.

FilmDr said...

Craig,

Stately plump Colin Farrell jumped from the fireball, bearing a bowl of lather on which a blaster laser gun and a razor lay crossed. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:

--Introibo ad altare Dei.

Ray Pride,

Thanks for the link on Movie City News.

Thanks, Jason and alleyandthemovies. One other note: the flying car chase scene strongly resembles the one in The Fifth Element.

Britt Parrott said...

From someone who has been reading Sebald, Krasznahorkai, and Bernhard all summer, great job on the sentence.

Dan O. said...

The cast and action make this predictable story a whole lot more enjoyable, but it’s still the same, old formula as the original. Except this time, it’s without all of the hilarious Arnie one-liners. Nice review.

FilmDr said...

Thanks, Britt.

Thanks, Dan O. I was mostly bothered by the movie's attention-deficit pacing.

Hokahey said...

Thanks for the comments on my post and for directing me here. Well, I read the sentence, FilmDr, and I liked it (your sentence), especially the cluster of hyphenated adjectives. But, along with Lock Out, I liked enough of the sci-fi elements in Total Recall to go for the ride and enjoy myself.

FilmDr said...

We can agree to disagree. I would have preferred it if the director of Total Recall had given us a tour of the futuristic world, a more detailed explanation of the glass-oriented technology. Blade Runner had the knack of continually hinting at greater depths whereas this film just seemed to get shallower with each plot shift and reveal.

Mercuryrules said...

With "the fall enslaves us all" I was hoping for a sci-fi exploration of the sin/redemption alternate-spiritual-reality type idea maybe in a "They Live" type of vein, but it never really happened.Too bad.
Does anyone know if this idea was put in the script, and just not developed?