Total Recall: Utter Perfection

No, not that new shite that came out in the current millennium, which was as interesting as anything else made by yanks for the box office – the 1990 movie with Arnie, Rachel and Shaz! 

Every time Ironside gets ejected into the Martian atmosphere and his eyes and tongue start bulging out of the make-up face, I have been laughing at that for decades now. But the reason for my disparaging mirth rests totally within the stunning production which engages still, thirty years later…

The colour palette of the movie, adhered to unlike any other mainstream movie that comes to mind other than The Matrix, sets the tone in detail from intro to credits. Muted and almost hidden, only the exploding head woman’s yellow dress seems to stand out, but even that is muted.

Naturally, leaving the 80s behind, there are the gore and action scenes, but none last overly long, and the car chases are fun and well executed within the context of the movie. The prediction of future cars was more accurate than not, with the ugly styling and non-combustion engine spot-on.

The casting was also spot-on, with the actors and actresses nailing their roles and playing up perfectly to the tone of the story and context, completely and naturally drawing me into the Total Recall world. The crescendo of the plot raises unerringly until the final scene where Rachel says, ‘Kiss me quick, before you wake up’, ending the movie before the kiss happens.

But the key aspect of this movie which really makes it so impressive and long-lived is the very simply presentation of each character and scene, supported brilliantly by just a detail here and there: the colour palette reinforces that we are not in reality; the cars reinforce we are not in contemporary society; and futuristic touch panels and flat screens, although conceptualised in the 60s, didn’t really enter common experience until 2007, if not 2010.

And this is, I reckon, why I laugh every time I see the eyes and tongue swelling in the Martian atmosphere – this movie does not take itself seriously. What could be done  amazingly was, and what wasn’t, therefore, didn’t actually matter… I really do hope future entertainment harkens back to this focus on quality in cinemas soon!