Saturday, 7 July 2012

Capgras Corner - Total Recall vs.....Total Recall

Total Recall is easily one of my favourite sf movies from the 80's. Much like Ridley Scott's Blade Runner director Paul Verhoeven took loose inspiration from the free-wheeling mad fiction of Philip K. Dick and produced something that managed to stand on its own two feet. Dick has this ability to lead his adapters - those who are paying attention at least (yes, I'm looking at you Paycheck) - down the rabbit hole of their imaginations. So Blade Runner excises the musings on a latter day Messiah from Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep, but instead presents us with a poignant discussion on synthetic mortality. Total Recall explodes the pulpy thrill of Dick's writing, casting that man Clive James once described as a brown condom full of walnuts rather unbelievably as an ordinary schmoe who might be a superspy.

For me this is the chief pleasure of Verhoeven's subversive commentary on the 80's action film genre, a cheeky wink to the audience that Schwarzenegger could ever be seen as an ordinary bloke.

(wow, that pretty much gave away the entire plot....) Verhoeven's film is fun, ridiculous, a big fleshy cartoon. I even am curious to see the little-known television series Total Recall 2070  which in an almost Lindelofian turn features a protagonist named David Hume, as if to suggest a tribute to Dick's philosophical pretensions. Unfortunately the mills of the Hollywood gods grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small. Twenty-two years later it appears we are due a remake of the Verhoeven film (and notably not a return to Dick's We Can Remember It for You Wholesale). Let's take a look at the trailer.

I was a little bothered when the two trailers preceding the preview screening of Amazing Spider-Man were this and Resident Evil.What did Sony think was the target demographic for these three pictures? Wiseman's film apes the original film to a weird degree - with trailers ensuring we know the three-breasted prostitute has survived the process of adaptation. The priorities are quite clear. There are some differences. 'Rekall' appears to be a more bohemian facility than the pristine lab of Verhoeven's film. Farrell, no stranger to remakes following the underrated Fright Night, is also slightly more believable as an ordinary schmoe. We also have Kate Beckinsale stepping into Sharon Stone's gym pants. I always feel sorry for Beckinsale, as she must lie awake at night afraid that she'll be replaced by Rhona Mitra.
Will I go see it? Can't say I'm that pushed on the strength of this trailer, or Wiseman's back catalogue.
In the plus column, the cast also features Bokeem Woodbine, one of the stars of The Big Hit, possibly the best-worst-film you'll ever see. If the Total Recall remake should prove to be just as entertainingly rubbish, I might well be tempted.


  1. I'm curious about this film, yet incredibly cautious.

  2. Caution is well advised Stacy. For the amount of money we're expected to shell out on a night at the movies these days you want to see something interesting and entertaining, and hopefully not just a retread of an already existing film.


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