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Total Recall (2012)
Friday, August 3, 2012
Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy
Kurt Wimmer, Mark Bomback
Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life.
Total Recall (2012) | Review
The Fall Holds Us Down
First things first. This one isn't nearly as clever in its witty repartee. Maybe that's Farrell, but I usually think of him as pretty witty (In Bruges, anyone?). On the other hand, he goes through the motions a bit, like he's seen something like this before (Minority Report, another Philip K. Dick story). But the action is fast-paced, even if it's almost all CGI, as Farrell's Doug ping pongs back and forth between his evil wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) and the Resistance fighter Melina (Jessica Biel). In the entertainment value, they ramp up the action, even if all of the plot points don't hold up.
Brian Cranston takes a turn as the evil dictator here, but the dialogue about truth and memories is mostly situated between Doug and various other characters, including his work colleague, played by Bokeem Woodbine. We're dealing with Plato's cave here a bit: what is truth, what is the truth being projected, and what is our understanding of the truth (as an interpretation). Dick's stories have always asked great questions but ultimately, Farrell's Doug finds himself choosing between exploring the past or embracing the present reality, and, of course, he does that well.
I was intrigued by the Resistance's mantra that "the Fall holds us down, truth sets us free" (or some facsimile). The Fall here is a form of reverse gravity transportation between the main territory and the Colony (what the Resistance is defending, like the Rebels versus Stormtroopers). But from a Judeo-Christian perspective, the Fall is (broadly) the separation of humanity from God based on choices made by Adam and Eve that led to their removal from the Garden of Eden. The Biblical Fall holds us down, too, or would have permanently, if not for the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, which liberates us from that condemnation. Every time the mantra played throughout the movie, my mind was drawn to that parallel Biblically, but it wasn't the only time.
Doug gets mentally loosed by Bill Nighy's compassionate Resistance leader but Cranston's baddie is slugging it out of him at one point and he splashes down into a pool of water. Rising up out of it, he finally starts giving it back to him, and Doug says, "I'll live in the present." The visual of the baptism splashdown, and the rising, freed from the doubts of which memories in his head were really his, to fight for the Resistance, was pretty powerful. Overall, those were two of the strongest images in the movie, and I'm sure others will find additional points of inspiration as well.
Total Recall circa 2012 is probably not better than the first one, but that doesn't mean that Dick's story and Farrell's delivery won't provide audiences with the opportunity for some summer entertainment, and some sci-fi wonderings about our place in the world.
Copyright © 2012 Hollywood Jesus. All rights reserved.
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