By Hemanth Kissoon
“Now, this is the plan. Get your ass to Mars,” Hauser.
Where to begin? A modern pop-cinema sci-fi classic. 22 years old. Being released on Blu-ray, and getting a one-day cinema re-run. It is arguably Arnie’s last hardcore action flick before softening his image for the 90s and beyond. His larger-than-life 80s persona was a natural fit with urbane adrenaline-meister director Paul Verhoeven (ROBOCOP, STARSHIP TROOPERS). Schwarzenegger’s unique charisma and the Dutch helmer’s urbane wit and perennial dissection of fascism and imperialism in his films, combined to make a ridiculously fast-paced blockbuster that makes today’s offerings seem disappointingly anaemic. The poster was right, “Get ready for the ride of your life.”
The former Mr. Universe plays Douglas Quaid, a construction worker obsessed with Mars. He repeatedly dreams about the Red Planet, together with an attractive brunette. His real life wife, Lori (Sharon Stone) is upset at this perceived infidelity. Perception permeates TOTAL RECALL, namely Quaid’s and the audience’s. The questioning of reality is triggered by the lead’s visit to Rekall, a company that implants fake memories. A cheaper alternative to a holiday. By the way, this is 2084. Inter-planetary travel, mind alteration and various weird-and-wonderful tech advances are the norm. Things at Rekall, labelled “brain butchers” by a pal of Quaid, needless to say go very awry; setting in motion an insanely spectacular adventure. Proceedings are over-the-top (a scene on an escalator where a bystander is repeatedly used as a human shield from a bullet-storm), hilarious (Arnie dispatching various peeps with aplomb and invention), and breathtaking (the spaceport security breach scene still stands up as quite frankly awesome).
TOTAL RECALL is not just dumb fun though, the themes explored prefigured EXISTENZ and INCEPTION. Imagination, energy, chemistry, one of the most exhilarating thrillers of modern cinema.
Quaid, “See you at the party Richter!”