That’s not to say the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Paul Verhoeven 1990 original is flawless or untouchable, but it stands as a ballsy, bloody blockbuster that represents the big-studio state-of-the-art of the pre-CGI era.
It is the textbook definition of a fun, campy sci-fi action epic that will endure as a superior version of Philip K. Dick’s story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” even if the glossy remake skews closer to the source.
Granted, some of the original version’s make up and visual effects are somewhat clunky, but sleek digital eye candy alone cannot justify this joyless, toothless retread.
The story remains essentially the same—blue collar worker Doug Quaid awakens from (or to?) the most elaborate mind-fuck ever devised, and finds himself running for his life to discover his true identity and thwart (or assist?) a planetary revolution.
This time, we remain on Earth (Ah-nuld, you’ll recall, “gets his ass to Mars” in the 1990 version), and the new film’s one unique flourish is its hellish vision of “The Fall”—a super-sonic trans-global transport the size of a skyscraper that tunnels through the core of the planet.
Colin Farrell brings an admirable level of paranoia and intensity to his role, but Arnold clearly had more fun with both the drama and the action of the plot, not to mention the throwaway quips. Schwarzenegger is no Olivier but he’s at the height of his charisma and physicality in his movie, exuding charm and machismo—and spewing puns aplenty.
Farrell is introduced as a blank slate and remains the same throughout, and is deprived of ANY memorable lines. Considering the frequency of blatant references to the first film, it’s an unforgivable omission that there’s not even a “Consider that a divorce!” moment in the remake for our hero—and the audience—to relish.
The writers never bother to explore the deeper implications of memory, deception and reality. The director is Len Wiseman who, after making the forgettable Underworld and one of its seemingly endless sequels, had the audacity to neuter John McClane in the pussified, PG-13-rated Live Free or Die Hard five years ago.
Without much pause for reflection or character development, Wiseman and company simply keeps things charging along at full-throttle, ignoring the elements of macabre humor and social satire filmmaker Paul Verhoeven so effortlessly injected into his 1990 version.
Wiseman is also a bit too enamored with artificial lens flares, at one point inexplicably using them indoors.
So, yeah, there’s a hooker with three breasts who pops up briefly.
|..and all three breasts generate their own lens flare!|
The plot of this remake doesn’t even touch upon the mutants who figured so prominently in the 1990 original, so we’re left wondering why, other then systematic studio fulfillment of a hardcore fan-boy’s checklist, there would even BE a woman with three breasts in this movie.