Sunday, April 7, 2013

Total Recall (1990)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven.
1990. Rated R, 113 minutes.
Rachel Ticotin
Michael Ironside
Marshall Bell
Mel Johnson Jr.
Michael Champion
Ray Baker
Rosemary Dunsmore
Roy Brocksmith

Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker who shares his life with Lori (Stone), his beautiful wife. Things are going great except for one thing: every night he has dreams of being on Mars that include some violent adventures and a lovely brunette. He then spends much of his day thinking of going to the red planet. Soon, he decides to go to Rekall. They’re a company specializing in the fabrication of vacations by injecting you with stuff that makes you believe you've actually been wherever it is you want to go without you ever leaving their offices. Of course, things don’t go so smoothly for our hero and what they give him doesn't seen to take. Nevertheless, his co-worker from the construction job and even his wife are suddenly trying to kill him. Sure enough, the authorities are trying to do the same. He gets some help from a stranger who advises him to get to Mars ASAP. Still not sure of what’s going on, he does. When he gets there he discovers the authorities there are also after him and even the locals hate him. They all think he’s some guy named Hauser. Lots of mayhem ensues while Doug tries to figure out what’s going on and we try to figure out if what we’re seeing is real or part of Doug’s Rekall experience.

Total Recall weaves a tale complex enough for thinking viewers yet still simple enough for the shoot ‘em up crowd. The action scenes come at fairly quick intervals while the plot between them twists and folds back on itself. It is of labyrinthine design and precise execution. The maze we travel is fun, not frustrating even if we're not always positive of what we’re watching. It is that rare popcorn flick that manages to both entertain the masses and screw with their heads.

Never known as a master thespian, star Arnold Schwarzenegger gives what is arguably his best performance. For a change, he goes beyond grunts and one-liners to give us something resembling a real human being. It’s also the only one of his better portrayals from before he became a parody of himself. Of course, the action sequences come natural to him so no worries there. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting he should’ve been recognized by the Academy, or anything. I’m simply saying he’s better than usual.

As with any older sci-fi flicks, how well the fx have held up is a concern. The mutants are all marvels of the grotesque. Occasionally, it is too apparent that something is a prosthetic or is just a bit hokey looking. Thankfully, this doesn't happen too often. In fact, I’d say there are just as many occurrences of things that still look really good.

Looking back through Arnie’s filmography hindsight makes it clear this is one of his most ambitious movies. It is not content to simply let him beat up a bunch of people and crack lame jokes. There are a couple of corny moments, but TR actually challenges us. The trick is that it does so without going over our heads, but still giving us enough to keep us locked in. For my money, it’s his best aside from the original Terminator.

MY SCORE: 8.5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment