What to do when scripter’s run out of original ideas? Why, you start to remake blockbusters from the 1990’s, of course.
Dreams are haunting Douglas Quaid (Collin Farrell). In them, he is trying to escape captivity but is trapped in a high-tech facility with others in pursuit. Before he awakes, he remembers saving a woman (Jessica Biel) who he does not recognize from his present life. His wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale) is always beside him to help him get past those nightmares. Living in a post-apocalyptic world, each day Doug goes about the same routine while his wife works as an EMT. There are the British Federation police and a force known as the “resistance” whom media have made out to be the villains in the war ravaged place called The Colony, one of only two places left suitable for human inhabitants. From the poorer ‘colony’ community, Doug takes the only transportation, known as “The Fall” into the UFB manufacturing police robots but… something is missing from his life. He wants something different. So hoping for something to change his humdrum existence, he goes to a place called Rekall. The place manufactures any reality the costumer wants but there is one catch: You cannot pick your own reality. Before his dream can begin, armed guards break in and attempt to arrest Doug, but not before he manages to disarm all of them and become a wanted fugitive.
Sci-Fi movies from the 1990’s and even before that make me cringe – just looking at the production stills of this 1990 film of the same name caused me to go, “ew! That looks gross!” Without ever seeing the original film I shouldn’t judge it but in this case, I will go out on a limb and say, it won’t be any sacrifice to say I’ll prefer the intelligence of this movie over the cheese of its predecessor. (Though it was rated R and this only PG13, there is still plenty of “adult” material involved.) For a non-sci-fi geek, this was a surprise and a film that was out of my comfort zone to see, though it didn’t disappoint – with exception to a few bits of “adult” humor that may have paid homage to the original but are actually vulgar – plus I am rather fond of its leading man and Kate Beckinsale once played Austen’s iconic Emma Woodhouse.
A love of a good mystery or thriller is something that’s been well documented around here… within that, I like my thriller’s to be realistic – or at least “realistic” in that they are set in our world without using any form of “mind control.” That is where it seems scripts can become dicey and raise questions that aren’t always above reproach. For a million different reasons, this is not a movie that everyone would like. Its setting is dark, the depravity in each situation can be depressing and the idea behind it may offend some potential viewers – including the use of wiping one’s memory for reasons that have nothing to do with honor. Not only does the corruption rule what (the things) surrounds each character but their attitudes, one of acceptance and unhappiness. Doug is suddenly unhappy in his reality and it makes us sad that he cannot be happy in the life he’s carved out but to cut him slack, we do quickly realize there is good reason behind his disenchantment. And it’s reason enough for us to wish for him his “freedom.” It’s just not the peaceful journey we may have expected in rooting Doug on.
The body count is high and the emotional impact is a bit… staggering. There’s some intelligence in the script though most the time the movie is too much of a flashy blockbuster to realize it could have been more. The filming took some adjusting as a white light backlights the character and halos them in a sterile type glow and seems to be distracting the viewer from enjoying the movie. One part of me gets what the production crew were trying to do in creating this world – one in which the world we now know no longer exists and no matter how “fun” the movie may be in the short time we fall into its world, it’s a frightening prospect. What I took away from it was a scenario of The Bourne Identity albeit in a high-tech, post 21st century, war-torn world and sans the whole memory retrieval thing. As most of you already know, that is the trilogy I seem to judge all similar genre titles by, only if you like sci-fi movies, this is a fun (3-star) one to watch on a lazy afternoon.
(Parental Concerns: In a flashback to its R-rated predecessor, there is one instance of nudity when a bare-chested woman flashes a man. Other minor sexual implications are present between a married couple; she is seen in her undergarments once. Violence is a high count of high-powered weapons and bullets spraying everywhere, and hand-to-hand combat that leaves numerous bodies in its wake. Profanity also racks up high uses of sh*t as well as abuses of God’s name in various forms, and more minor profanities in a**, b*tch, h*ll, etc. The film is rated PG13.)