Colin Farrell remade Total Recall, and no one has taken on such impossible odds since the original Schwarzenegger movie. The original featured a more perfect ass-kicking combination than the A-Team. Director Paul Verhoeven had already given us Robocop (never mind Oscars, the fact he hasn’t received a Nobel Prize is criminal oversight) and now presided over the best action combination since Tony Jaa and Anyone Made Of Human Bones You Don’t Need Later. Philip K. Dick wrote masterful science fiction stories but had a nasty habit of not ending them. Nastily ending things was Schwarzenegger’s entire deal!
Remaking Total Recall is like going back to remake your first kiss 22 years later: you might know a lot more about now, but trying to recapture the original with cameras is a bad idea. The worst thing is that this shows Hollywood knows which movies were good, but when trying to learn from a movie with an original story their first idea was “Copy it.” We hope the new version is good, but know it can’t compare with the original .
1) ACTION WITH A PLOT
People used to take the piss out of Schwarzenegger movies for lacking plot, and the last ten years have been Hollywood’s revenge. Because when you continually insult your partner’s efforts they eventually stop even pretending. Schwarzenegger movies were built around some challenging science-fiction concepts: time travel and fate; reality shows so cool they dominated the real society (and in the most explosive example of Poe’s Law yet The Running Man was a real-world success); genetic engineering and the idea Danny DeVito and Arnie were the same species. Schwarzenegger really was a Terminator, a recognisable fleshy layer they wrapped around advanced science-fiction so that regular humans wouldn’t run away. And this was back when people cared so little about science-fiction that Total Recall didn’t even spell Philip K. Dick’s name right in the credits of his own movie.
Nowadays the average action movie plot is that Jason Statham has 90 minutes to make something explode or his career will die.
2) THREE BREASTS
Everyone who went through puberty remembers Miss Threeboobs, and I’m only adding the “Miss” because I’m older now. They’ve crafted a new trimammary for the remake, but it’s wasted effort. No character can ever be that gratuitous again.The internet means modern movies don’t have to wedge in exactly one upper torso shot per movie, but in an era where horny boys could only get two nipples per ninety minutes Madame Extrabreast delivered 150% of everything they ever hoped for.
She was also more focused on her job than a bomb disposal expert. She unwrapped breasts faster than a chicken-skinning robot and was even more mercenarily concerned with flesh. And for one month in 1990 she was a more worshipped trinity than the one with the holy ghost. Kaitlyn Leeb will surely do a fine job, but nowadays kids can find entire naked triplets online in less time than it takes to watch a movie’s credits. The appeal is gone. And, in a terrible indictment of modern technology, we now realize that a few seconds with a topless Martian prostitute when we were young was actually the innocence of our youth.
3) EFFECTIVELY SPECIAL
The remake will have far superior special effects, holographic decoys, a decayed futuretropolis which isn’t just downtown Mexico with extra neon, they’ll do all kinds of wonderful things, and it won’t really matter. Of course modern movies have special effects. But the original had amazing special effects.
The original was filmed at a high point of wonder: pre-CGI models were at their peak and they’d just gotten CGI too, so they were doing things we had never seen before. In retrospect the computerized parts are laughable, but back then we were stunned. We had no idea cinema could do that. Nowadays you need an extra-special explosion combination to wake us up, but back then the Special Achievement Academy Award in Visual Effects went to a movie that duct-taped a calculator to a guy’s wrist to make him look future.
And we’re sorry to do this to you, but when discussing this movie we are required by law to mention Kuato.
4) PURE ’80s
Total Recall was like 1990 gathering up the entire past decade for one final send off. Arnie and Sharon Stone engaged in very slow karate while she was dressed in a boob-tube, 80s hair, and a leotard.
Their next conflict was western civilization’s first fight scene in which two women actually looked like they were trying to hurt each other instead of foreplaying for a watching fraternity.
5) PURE ONE-LINER
Total Recall was the underappreciated masterpiece of the now-lost art of the one-liner. James Bond has been grittified, Schwarzenegger got into politics, and modern movies consider a great one-liner something they ripped off an internet meme. But back then Arnie was prepared to die to get a good line. Arnie wears a perfectly humanoid robotic shell, and is only caught because he hasn’t programmed it to say anything more than “Two weeks.” A massive shootout depressurizes the Mars spaceport because he never thought to make it say “Yes” or “No.” But because he’s Arnie, he has programmed it to have a whole extra one-liner just before exploding after he tosses it at the bad guys–no, wait, they’re just innocent security guards.
That’s pure Arnie. He risks the entire planet of Mars just so he can have the sassiest hand grenade in history. She remains my #1 comedy sidekick in any action movie, because she’s actually funny, only screws up once, and shuts up for 97% of the movie. He ends his sham marriage in the most definitive and least-surprising-for-Arnie-to-do way ever. Shooting her through the head and slurring “Consida dad a divoas.” No-one else in the world could alliterate that sentence! That just can’t happen in the reboot. Modern films can’t pull it off. We’ll never see Colin Farrel screwing a spinning screwdrill to screw a giant screwtank while shouting “SCROOOOO YOOOOOO!”
Need more Recall? Continue to find out how Total Recall Beat Inception by 20 Years