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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Total Recall

By
Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service


Colin Farrell stars in a scene from the movie "Total Recall."
Remakes are all the rage in the movie industry at the moment. While some retreads manage to introduce classic films to a new generation, others leave theatergoers scratching their heads, wondering why anyone involved bothered. The latter reaction, alas, is likely to be provoked by "Total Recall" (Columbia).

Director Len Wiseman has sanitized Paul Verhoeven's extremely violent 1990 action thriller–an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yet although toned-down, the new version still contains more than its fair share of objectionable content.

The year is 2084. After an apocalyptic war that blighted the global environment, Earth has been divided between the United Federation of Britain on one side of the world and the Colony, a stand-in for Australia, on the other. While people in the Federation live in luxury, the oppressed working classes who serve them are housed in the Colony. The two regions are connected by a transport line through the Earth's core known as "The Fall."

Unhappy with his boring life and troubled by nightmares, Everyman Colony drudge Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) seeks relief through the services of a company known as Rekall. Rekall specializes in turning fantasies into memories, thus allowing its customers to believe they really are whoever it is they wish to be.

Before Rekall can work its magic on Quaid, however, a routine mental screening uncovers the surprising fact that this blue-collar grunt is, in fact, some sort of secret agent who has had his memory wiped.

Stunned by this revelation—which instantly makes him a wanted man—Quaid goes on the lam with the authorities in hot pursuit. He's thrown even further off balance when his seemingly devoted and loyal wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) turns against him.

Things take a political turn when an Irish Republican Army-like guerrilla group known as the Resistance reaches out to Quaid in the person of young activist Melina (Jessica Biel), a figure Quaid has already encountered in his dreams.

Clever plot twists and impressive futuristic visuals can't make up for an ensemble of humorless two-dimensional characters—nor for their favored vocabulary of foul language. The dialogue in Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback's screenplay, moreover, is bloated with cliched ruminations on the nature of reality, e.g. "The past is a construct of the mind."

One tiresome philosophical diatribe succeeds another. Not only do these speculations quickly stale, they make no reference either to God or to the soul.

So, by the time the infamous three-breasted prostitute from the original film makes her reappearance, viewers of faith may be hoping for a mind-wipe of their own.

The film contains frequent action violence, including gunplay; upper female and brief rear nudity; references to prostitution; occasional uses of profanity; at least one rough term; and pervasive crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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