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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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