Total Recall (Review)
Get your ass to Mars!
Paul Verhoeven directs this Philip K. Dick story turned action film, starring my governor. Full of Verhoeven staple actors and Verhoeven staple mindless action (or satire action, as he likes to make most of it.) Now, that style may work well with obvious pieces such as Robocop and Starship Troopers, but it feels out of place at times in movies like this and Hollow Man. Not that this is a terrible movie, it’s just a few of the actions scenes seem like they are slightly out of it compared to the general tone of the film. This movie is also drowning in Star Trek actors, you can’t kick over a mutant in Venusville without seeing half a dozen scatter.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is Doug Quaid, an man in the future of 2084 who dreams of Mars every night. As Mars is now colonized, this is not as unusual as it would seem. He also dreams of Racheal Ticotin each night, which is less surprising considering he is married to Sharon Stone! The news reports of terrorist attacks on Mars by a separatist group lead by a mutant named Kuato. Mars administrator Cohaagen (played by Ronny Cox, who was Edward Jellico on Star Trek:TNG) decries the attacks by the terrorists. Doug wants to move to Mars, but the wife doesn’t want to. There are also rumors of alien artifacts on Mars, which is believed to be one reason why the mutant terrorists are elevating their rate of attacks. While commuting to work, Doug sees an ad for ReKall, a company that gives you fake memories, but is warned away by his Danny DeVito looking coworker Harry (Robert Costanzo, who was Slade Bender in the ST:TNG episode Manhunt.) The ad is hosted by Dr. Edgemar (Roy Brocksmith, who was Sirna Kolrami in ST:TNG episode Peak Performance and also on ST:DS9) Doug goes anyway, because otherwise the plot would go nowhere.
Doug is sold on a trip to Mars, and gets a special memory package to make him a secret agent. Lo and behold, something goes wrong, and he starts freaking out. The memory implants have triggered suppressed memories, as he appears to have had his memory wiped by The Agency. They freak out and dump him in a Johnny Cab, a automated cab run by an animatronic robot torso that looks like Don Knotts, but is really molded and voiced by Robert Picardo, of Star Trek Voyager fame. Quaid is met by his DeVito-looking buddy, who is armed, and has some other goons with him, as they aim to finish Quaid off. Quaid ends up killing all of them, then heads home and tries to explain things to his wife. Sharon Stone calls for help, then tries to kill him as well. He beats her down and she starts talking, admitting his life is a lie and she’s only known him for six weeks, not knowing who he is as his memories are implanted. Quaid flees, as armed men are rapidly approaching, including Michael Ironside! (who has never been on Star Trek, surprisingly) Another notable guy with the group is a buzzcutted man with glasses, who is called Helm, though I don’t think they ever call him that in the film, so we will call him Buzzcut. He is played by Michael Champion, who was Boratus in the ST:TNG episode Captain’s Holiday. We find out Sharon is Ironside’s girl, and they have a bug in Quaid they are using to track him. They follow him to the subway where Quaid does a cool crash through the security scanner, and a firefight erupts on the escalator, with Quaid using a dead civilian as a shield while he shoots all the henchmen except Ironside and Buzzcut. Quaid buys some time getting on a train, and goes to a hotel. There he gets a call from a mysterious man who has a package for him, as well as telling him to put a wet towel around his head. Quaid gets the package, after fighting off an old woman. Quaid escapes Ironside and Buzzcut by hijacking a Johnny Cab. Johnny Cabs also explode like gasoline filled firecrackers despite the fact they are electrically powered.
Quaid goes through his goody bag, it’s full of red Martian Money, fake ID’s, a weird device, a gun, and a hologram projector. There is also a video telling himself that he isn’t Quaid, he is Houser. Houser tells him how to get the bug out of his skull (via the weird device through the nose) and tells him to “Get your ass to Mars!” He does.
Mars! Ironside and Buzzcut get recalled back to Mars by Cohaagen as well. They get met by Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat from ST:DS9!) who explains more about Martian Mutant Terrorists and Kuato so we get more plot information. A woman is having trouble in the customs line, and it’s Quaid! Ironside shoots out a window trying to kill him, and a few soldier goons are sucked out into the airless Martian atmosphere. Quaid escapes as the windows are sealed. Cohaagen yells at Ironside some more. On a train ride, Quaid talks to a miner played by Mickey Jones, who starred with Michael Ironside in the V series.
Quaid heads for a hotel Houser told him to go to, and gets a note he left for himself at the front desk. It tells him to look for a girl called Melina at the Last Resort nightclub. Quaid takes a taxi there, driven by a black man named Benny, who has five kids to feed. Benny is played by Mel Johnson Jr., who was Legate Broca in the last few episodes of ST:DS9. Benny gives him the grand tour, the club is in the mutant section, called Venusville. Many of the mutants are psychic. Quaid goes to see Melina, despite a brief detour by a three-breasted prostitute (played by Lycia Naff, what was Ensign Sonya Gomez on two episodes of ST:TNG.) Rachael Ticotin is Melina, and it is clear they have a volatile relationship. She doesn’t believe his memory story, and kicks him to the curb.
Back at his hotel room, Dr. Edgemar shows up, telling him he is not really there, and in a chair back at the ReKall center. He also has Sharon Stone there with him to try to convince him. Quaid sees through the ruse and shoots Edgemar dead. Stone calls in some goons and they capture Quaid. On the way down, they run into Melina in the elevator, who machineguns down the goons and has a girl on girl fight with Sharon Stone. Quaid divorces his wife via a bullet to the head.
They manage to pick up Benny as a cab driver again and drive off, with Ironside and Buzzcut in hot pursuit. They head to Venusville, and hide out in the Last Resort. Ironside and some soldier men head into the club, and start gunning down mutants, including the three breasted on. This does not bode well, and a midget girl mutant machetes Buzzcut, than machine guns down many soldiers. Ironside barely escapes, and Marc Alaimo arrives with more men, but Cohaagen tells them all to leave, and he seals off the Mutant Zone and stops their air supply. Quaid, Melina, and Benny get out before they are sealed off, the mutant leader Kuato wants to meet Quaid. Kuato lives in some guy’s stomach, and helps Quaid remember that Cohaagen discovered an alien machine that will make air. (Although a scientist in the flashback says it may destroy the planet)
The bad guys storm the Mutant Rebels base! Kuato, Quaid, Melina, and Benny are about to escape, but Benny guns down Kuato. Turns out he was working for Cohaagen all along. Ironside shows up and finishes off Kuato, and Quaid and Melina are captured. Cohaagen reveals the entire thing was a giant setup, and shows a video from Houser, who tells Quaid he wants his body back. Not being thrown away so easily, Quaid violently (and ridiculously in some cases) wastes some scientists and escapes with Melina. Quaid heads toward the reactor, but the tunnel is sealed. Benny heads for him, driving a giant drilling machine. “I’m gonna drill you, sucka!” he shouts. Quaid’s natural fear of dentistry comes to a head, and he grabs a smaller drill of his own, and cuts through the oil line on the machine. Then he drills into the machine cockpit, and gives Benny a new opening in his stomach. “Screw you!” is Quaid’s action hero reply. Benny also managed to cut through the tunnel enough that they can get to the reactor. Ironside and some military goons are there as well.
Quaid uses his hologram projector to waste the baddies, with help from Melina. Then he and Ironside fight on an elevator. Ironside is literally disarmed, and Quaid heads for the control panel of the reactor, but Cohaagen is there with a gun. He monologues for a while and is about to kill Quaid, but Melina shoots him. Quaid tosses a bomb Cohaagen set to blow up the control panel, but it rips open a window to the Martian Atmosphere, and people must hang on for dear life. Quaid struggles to reach the controls, and yanks Cohaagen loose so he goes flying outside, to die a death of ballooning up and eyeballs popping out. Quaid activates the machine, but he and Melina then get sucked out as well. They start to balloon up as well, but the machine starts producing air, and transforms the atmosphere of the whole planet in less than two minutes, and they survive and can breathe normally. I can’t even boil water for tea that fast. Now Mars is free.
Oh, yeah, maybe it’s all a dream.
Star Trek actors I didn’t mention when they showed up because I don’t know who they were:
Parker Whitman, who played “Martian husband” and was “Cardassian Officer #1” in ST:DS9 episode Emissary: Part 1. Milt Tarver, who was “Commercial Announcer” and was “Scientist” in ST:TNG episode Time’s Arrow: Part 1. Kamala Lopez-Dawson, who was “Additional Voices” and also Tincoo on Voyager episode Virtuoso. Frank Kopyc who was “Technician” as well as “Bolian Aide” in ST:DS9 episode Let He Who Is Without Sin…. And finally, Erik Cord, who was “Lab assistant” as well as “Thug” in ST:TNG episode The Big Goodbye. Total Star Trek actors: 13!
Now, this film was incredibly violent, at some points to ridiculous proportions. That sort of detracted from the fantasy, though the norm for Verhoeven films. This was a fantasy, but had unintended draws from reality by the violence overload. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to have any type of message at all, or seem to be purposefully over the top as some sort of message, it was just over the top. That detracts from what is otherwise a pretty decent mindless action sci-fi movie.
Get your ass to Mars!
Rated 7/10 (Security Scanner, fingernail painting, exploding Johnny, Mutant Mommy, Mutant Girl, Getting his ass to Mars)
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