2012-08-03

Total Recall – The Fall Enslaves Us All

by Yo Snyder

The distinguishing feature of Total Recall is the fact that
everyone is almost always breathless. Now, this may have something to do
with how they’re constantly running and jumping and falling and
punching and chasing and crashing and shooting and exploding and so on
and so forth. That’s enough to make anyone winded. The problem is the
movie itself forgets to take some time to breathe, and when it does, it
just for a few brief gasps. Now, as a viewer, I wasn’t ever breathless
as the action sequences were all fairly familiar or derivative, the
revelations weren’t all that surprising so they didn’t take my breath
away, and so I wasn’t winded at all the by the end of things. If
anything, I breathed a sigh of resigned indifference at the end of it
all. Did I have a good time? I suppose, but for the most part, this is
one remake that just confirmed what I suspected the moment I saw the
first trailer: this is one remake that just didn’t need to be made.

Now,
in creating this remake, a couple of major mistakes were made that keep
it from truly being something special…or at least better. First, the
whole “Is it real or is it Rekall” angle isn’t played very well. During
the key scene when Colin Farrell’s more everyman version of Douglas
Quaid is being forced to question what exactly is real, there isn’t much
suspense for the audience because we’ve seen so much from the
perspective of other characters that we already know what the answer is.
When Arnold faced that situation, there was some genuine doubt about
what we had or had not seen take place, which made for a very cool,
suspenseful moment. The other major mistake is the question of identity
is never really resolved. In this version, Quaid is more or less just
swept along as events unfold, and that remains the case pretty much all
the way through. In the Schwarzenegger version, there was the key moment
when Quaid realized that he had been betrayed (spoiler alert for a 22
year-old movie) by himself, and from that moment he seizes control not
only of the situation, but of who he wants to be. Here in 2012,
Quaid’s too busy running and gunning to take time to bother with such a
key revelation and decision, and the film’s poorer for it.

Now that’s not to say it’s a total loss. Sure, Total Recall 2012 is like a conglomerate of previous sci-fi greats from Bladerunner to Minority Report to I, Robot to even Star Wars,
but it has its moments. Like when Quaid, after previously mentioning
that he always wanted to learn piano, sits down at a piano and discovers
that he does indeed know how to play. The expression of surprise mixed
with sheer giddy joy that washes over him at this revelation is a
delightful moment, and gives one a glimpse at what might have been had
the character been allowed more time for such a journey of
self-discovery. Truth be told, the biggest film this movie pays homage
to is another amnesiac; Jason Bourne. This film plays out like someone
wondering what would happen if Jason Bourne did all that crazy stuff
that he can do, but did it in the future. Wouldn’t that be cool? Well
yeah, it kind of is.

As you’ve probably already heard, this
version doesn’t take place on Mars (because for some reason here in the
21st century, movies that take place on Mars are box office poison
*cough* John Carter *cough*). This conflict takes place here on
Earth, an Earth that’s no longer all that hospitable. The only places
left for people to live are Britain and Australia, and transportation
between the two goes through the center of the planet on a huge, cargo
transport and tunnel that’s simply known as The Fall. The colonists in
Australia commute to the wealthier, more powerful United British
Federation where they make up the bulk of the grunt workforce. Thus
there’s a class struggle with a resistance movement claiming that “The
Fall enslaves us all.” Catchy slogan. A Biblical one, in fact.

Did
you know that the Bible also talks about The Fall? Of course in the
Bible it’s not something that can get you from one side of the planet to
the other by going through the center of it, but rather it’s an event; a
key event that took place a long time ago. It was a moment when
humanity was faced with a decision; obey God and live life according to
his rules, or take matters into our own hands and try to live life on
our own terms. Adam and Eve choose the latter, and in so doing, they
fell. The fell from a state of perfection. They fell from the good
pleasure of God by disobeying him. They fell into the stark reality of a
deception that had them convinced life would be better but turned out
to be just the opposite. They fell into sin, into evil, into corruption,
and they fell from freedom into slavery. And we’ve been suffering ever
since. Indeed, The Fall was the enslavement of us all.

Fortunately,
the story doesn’t end there. God loved us far too much to just let it
go at that, and so he did something about The Fall; in fact, he undid
it. He accomplished this through the death and resurrection of his son
Jesus, which cleared a way for us to get free of sin, to find salvation
and forgiveness, and to enjoy a restoration of life as God intended
before The Fall. Now, not everyone wants that, not everyone wants things
to change because they’re comfortable with the way things are. But if
you’re like Quaid, if you feel dissatisfied and like there just has to
be something…more, more than just life as we know it, then take heart;
there is. You don’t even need a mind wipe to discover it, but you do
need a change of heart, you do need a Savior.

You don’t, however,
necessarily need to go see this movie. Yeah the action is decent, it has
some fun little Easter eggs for fans of the original, and it even has a
few good ideas here and there. For the most part though, it just
barrels along, breathlessly trying to keep the action going without ever
really pausing to give us much to latch onto beyond the spectacle of,
yeah, Jason Bourne in the future is kind of cool; now if they could just
tell a story to go along with the action.

Score: 4 of 7