April 18th, 2006
The first time I saw Total Recall was in bits and pieces on a TV edit while flipping the channel to avoid getting in trouble. So I finally got back to watching the full movie with no interruption, with the full knowledge that the star of the film is the current governor of California.
Total Recall as everyone knows tells the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger as he fights against the future. Duh-duh-DUH! On a more cerebral level it's loosely based on the story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by the classic writer Philip K Dick.
The movie starts on the red canyons of Mars. Doug (Arnie) and his dream lover walk along a ridge but he falls off and shatters his suit's faceplate. Gotta love special effects wherein peoples' faces swell up. But it's a dream! Zap! He wakes up in a normal and boring life with a hot nubile chick beside him (Sharon Stone).
Doug wants to move to Mars. Sharon Stone doesn't. The red stones of Mars or the nubile stones of Sharon? Sharon please!
Much of the appeal of the movie is the seamless inclusion of the future technology. Doug walks to the Metro but strides through a real time full body wall of more-than-xray.
On the metro he sees a commercial for a company that offers the implantation of memories (draw parallels to Bladerunner here). The company is Rekall.
Doug works construction, jackhammering the crap out of a huge hole in the ground. His muscles are all jiggly. His friend tells him "don't fuck with your brain" - which sounds like a good idea.
More technology - the receptionist at Rekall idly changes the color of her fingernails with the touch of a pen.
Doug considers paying 899 Credits for a two week memory package of Mars. He takes the implantation of memories into his brain pretty lightly. Doug is thrilled to tack 300 credits onto the bill for the Secret Agent bonus package. He's like a kid in a candy store as he lays down to get his brain quite thoroughly "fucked with."
Doug goes under into a happy trance and we cut scene to everyone freaking the heck out. Schizoid embollism is the term they use. He's redfaced and furious, bursting out of the restraints. They tranq him a dozen of times. The salesman is sure that he's acting out the Secret Agent portion of his package but that can't be! They haven't implanted it yet.
It seems that at some point in time someone has erased his memory of actually having been on Mars. They erase his memory of having been to Rekall and they dump him into an automated cab.
A bunch of guys grab him - he wasn't supposed to go to Rekall. He messed up. They're there to kill him. But oh no, Arnie "Doug Quaid" Schwarzenegger doesn't go down that easy! Despite having no knowledge of fighting (of course, he does, he just doesn't know it) he manages to take out the four guys who were trying to kill him.
Doug runs home and tells his wife about the guys who tried to kill him. The apartment is dark. She starts shooting at him and attacking him with a knife. Oh snap. She's not really his wife. She's another secret agent. All these people have been placed to keep tabs on Doug. Everything he remembers about their marriage was a fake implanted memory.
A bunch of guys are coming into the building after him. He knocks out his wife, so no deathcount there. Run Doug run!
In a cool as heck move, Doug bursts through the xray wall to avoid the guards and the assassins after him.
A gunsquad at the top of an escalator shoots the crap out of a guy in front of Doug.
But then he kills all of them with the gun his wife had used.
Arnie keeps using the guy as a meat shield as the thugs below him continue to shoot at him. But he throws the corpse down at them and runs away. They've got a very accurate tracking device on him, but he manages to jump on the metro and escape - for now!
He checks into a crappy hotel. The phone rings as soon as he gets in there. An unknown man tells him that he's bugged. A temporary solution is to wet a towel and wrap it around his head. The turbaned Doug runs out to pick up a suitcase left by the operative he's talking to.
Of course, right now, the audience is wondering if any of this is real. Maybe he's just acting out the memories that were implanted in him at Rekall. Who knows? Let's keep watching.
Escaping in a stolen taxi cab, he drives off to an abandoned site. In the most random car explosion ever, the cab drives itself into a wall and blows up with a huge and ludicrous mushroom cloud.
Finally alone, he opens the suitcase. In it are fistfulls of credits, several ID cards, and odd pieces of technology, including a wristwatch that projects a hologram of himself.
The final thing he opens is a small computer that automatically plays a movie recorded by himself. The real himself. He's worked for Mars intelligence but he realized he had been playing for the wrong team. Basically he's betrayed his former employers, who captured him and erased his memory. But something didn't take. And how he's a danger to be eliminated.
Here's the scene that really stuck with me when I was a kid and watched this. Doug has to take the tracker out of his brain. Basically he pulls a sphere out of his nose that is far larger than things that should be pulled through a person's nose.
Uncovering it from the tracker means that it's unshielded, so they bad guys can track him. Well, track where the tracker is anyway.
They show up quite quickly. Thinking fast, he puts the tracker on a rat, distracting the bad guys. The computer is stuck on repeat, saying, "get your ass to mars. get your ass to mars. get your ass to mars." so they know where he's going. In a fit of rage, the bad guy shoots the absolute crap out of the rat that had the tracker.
Deaths: 9 (+1 rat)
On Mars, Doug arrives in the infamous big-fat-lady disguise. He was trying to sneak in incognito but the disguise malfunctions, exposing him. So he simply throws the head at a group of guards, who catch it. Being a secret agent, the head is boobie-trapped and explodes. Not quite sure of the effectiveness of it, but we'll say that it definitely kills the guy who's holding it, and chances are another guy dies later from injuries.
Deaths: 11 (+1 rat)
Dumbass villain guy shoots like mad at Doug, missing him completely but succeeding in shattering the exterior wall of the dome. In the resulting pressure loss, two guards are show being sucked out into the deadly martian atmosphere.
Deaths: 13 (+1 rat)
Doug slips away. He's now anonymous in Mars. Long story short, the bad guys want him dead. That's really all you need to know. Doug stops into the apartment he's directed to by his alter ego. He picks up a flyer directing him to a whorehouse. Niiiice. As he gets into a cab, an explosion goes off and gunfire erupts as the rebels strike again. Let's call that three deaths. Surely more die, but it's almost background.
Deaths: 16 (+1 rat)
So he goes to the sleaze district of the Mars Domes. There's a large underground minority of mutants and freaks with horrible mutations. They are disfigured physically but often gifted with psychic abilities. It's a product of the alien environment.
Inside the whorehouse is yet another infamous scene from this movie. When I told my wife I was watching Total Recall the first thing she said was, "Oh, the one with the girl with three boobs?" Yes indeed!
Anyway, Doug goes to see the whore that he was directed to (again, by his pre-memory-erasure self). She's self assured and passionate. She had a past with him. But she doesn't trust him any more and kicks him out. His taxi driver takes him back to his hotel.
In the hotel a man shows up, trying to convince Doug that he's still laying in a chair, Matrix style, back in Rekall. Even his wife shows up as part of the gag. They almost convince him to take a suicide pill to help wake him up, but upon seeing a drop of sweat trickle down his head, Doug shoots the guy in the forehead.
Deaths: 17 (+1 rat)
A bunch of guys burst in and manage to subdue him. Bummer. But as they're about to take him into an elevator, Melina - the whore who knew him, bursts out and kills the guys.
Deaths: 21 (+1 rat)
Doug wakes up to see his wife and his whore in a knock down drag out fight. Doug helps out Melina by shooting his traitor wife in the head. Bummer, she was hot.
Deaths: 22 (+1 rat)
In a taxi-cab chase leading back to the whorehouse, Doug, Melina and the cab driver manage to sneak into a secret tunnel and escape. The villain, once again in a fit of rage (remember the rat he blew up earlier?) shoots the crap out of the girl with three breasts.
Deaths: 23 (+1 rat)
Then the guy threatens a midget whore, so a mutant attacks him and gets his guts shot out - but he's not dead, just wounded. No deathcount there. But don't worry:
Chaos ensues in the whorehouse as guards start firing and prostitutes start rebelling. There are at least 7 solid onscreen deaths, including the tech guy getting gutted by the midget whore.
Deaths: 30 (+1 rat)
Moving on, this is where the movie gets a little heavy handed and political, the bad guys withdraw and the whole sector is sealed off. The air is shut down. This is an effort by the "leader of mars" or whatever (the main bad guy) to simultaneously quell the rebellion, kill Kuato, and kill Doug.
Oh, sorry, I'm back now. You wouldn't have known it if I wasn't telling you right now, but I just took a little break, got up, killed a big spider so Aubrey wouldn't have to see it, made a grilled cheese sandwich (with a meat-free chicken-flavored patty in it), and got myself a drink. But I'm back now.
Going further down the rabbit hole we learn that the mutants want Doug so that they can use the knowledge in his memories to bring down the overlord of Mars and get free air to everyone. We also learn that Doug's embracing his role as saviour extraordinaire. Third, we find out that the taxi driver's a mutant also.
Doug Quaid finally gets to meet Kuato. He's a fetuslike creature embedded into the torso of the leader of the rebellion. Duh duh DUH. Like several other movies with mutant or monsters stuck in abdomen of another person, it's a gross special effects affair.
Anyway Kuato goes all psychic hotline on Doug and forces him to remember that there's some huge machine in the Pyramid mine that's half a million years old. No one knows what it does. It's crazy.
They're broken from their reverie when drill machines burst into their secret compound. Soldiers flood in and violence erupts. We get to see a good dozen or so deaths.
Deaths: 42 (+1 rat)
The good guys, of course, manage to escape while all the redshirts and shooting the crap out of each other.
They get into an airlock and the taxi driver shoots the crap out of the guy carrying Kuato! OH SNAP! He's a traitor!
Deaths: 43 (+1 rat)
Then he lets in the others, and psycho Richter shoots the suffering Kuato in the head. This is after Kuato tells Doug to start the alien machine and "free mars"
Deaths: 44 (+1 rat)
Back in the head guy's office it turns out that the original Arnie guy (Howser) voluntarily wiped himself and planted Doug's existence to trick himself into leading the bad guys right to the rebellion. It's an elaborate double-cross ruse, but now Doug's scheduled for a brain wipe to get his old personality back. Snap again!
They get strapped into the brainwipe chairs and we get to see the governator do some great "I'm in pain" faces. Ahh acting. It's a beautiful thing.
It's already been shown that these chairs can't hold him, though, so I have no idea why they didn't tranq the heck out of him. Anyway he rips off the armrest and impales a doctor in the neck, then smashes in the face of another guy.
Deaths: 46 (+1 rat)
Then he shoves a long metal pole through the face of another guy.
Deaths: 47 (+1 rat)
Back in the office, the bad guy kicks over his aquarium, spilling a dozen fish on the floor. The symbolism of the fish dying for lack of water is clear.
Deaths: 47 (+1 rat) (+12 fish)
The entire whorehouse district is almost dead, for lack of oxygen.
The alien reactor machine makes air. That's the secret. He has a machine to create free air for the entire planet, but he won't turn it on because controlling the air controls the planet.
Back in the tunnels the taxi driver starts up a drilling machine to kill them. But Quaid picks up a giat jackhammer-like drill and shoves it into his guts while yelling one of the best lines ever: "Screw YOUUUUU!"
Deaths: 48 (+1 rat) (+12 fish)
Richter and a bajillion soldiers wait in the reactor for Quaid to show up. But Quaid has a funny feeling about all this, so he straps on the hologram wristwatch he got earlier. Everyone jumps out and shoots him, but of course it's the hologram. The real Quaid pops out and between him and Melina they ice, oh, another fifteen or so guys.
Deaths: 63 (+1 rat) (+12 fish)
Quaid and Richter hop on an elevator and fight like real men. All the time the elevator is rising. Doug throws him off the elevator but holds on to his arms while the elevator passes into a tunnel. Richter's arms are crushed off and he falls to his death. Quaid says, "See you at the party, Richter!" when he knows full well that he won't be attending. That Arnie is so silly.
Deaths: 64 (+1 rat) (+12 fish)
Instead of riding the elevator back down to get Melina, he goes to start the reactor, but the evil guy shows up, of course, with a gun. He says he's going to kill Doug, blow up the entire structure, and "be home in time for corn flakes" - bahaha.
But Melina shows up in the nick of time and shoots the guy. He falls to the floos and activates the bomb, but Doug grabs it and chucks it as far as he can. It blows up at a safe distance but it also blasts a hole out to the deadly atmosphere of Mars.
Doug flings the bad guy off his handhold, and he flies out into the atmosphere and begins to pop. Meanwhile Doug fights to activate the air reactor.
Which he does.
Meanwhile the bad guy is still busy blowing up.
There we go.
Reminds me of this scene from Return of Street Fighter
Deaths: 65 (+1 rat) (+12 fish)
Quaid and Melina lose their handholds and fly out into the still quite deadly atmosphere of Mars.
But wait, they activated the machine! While they're lying around blowing up
the machine is busy cranking out a bajillion gallons of good fresh air.
Just before they die, they're overcome with wave after wave of fresh air, which bursts open the domes around all the areas of the Mars compound.
Within a few seconds the entire planet has been completely converted to a clear blue sky and clean fresh air. It's a beautiful thing. A ludicrous, silly, beautiful thing.
So in the end, all the bad guys suffer appropriately gruesome deaths, Arnold Schwarzenegger saves the entire planet (but especially the hookers and scum), and he gets the girl. Too bad Sharon Stone was evil...but you can't win 'em all.
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