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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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