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‘Total Recall’

Audience:
L – limited adult audience

 

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Forgettable film features violence and foul language

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. 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 become 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.

(By Adam Shaw, Catholic News Service)

‘The Bourne Legacy’

Audience:
Audience: A-III – Adults

 

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Definitely not for the kids, but adults may find entertainment

Can the Bourne franchise continue without Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne? If the mediocre extension “The Bourne Legacy” (Universal) is all we have to go on, perhaps the answer is: Yes, but with considerably diminished results.

Based on a series of novels by Robert Ludlum, the popular – albeit frequently violent – trilogy began with 2002’s “The Bourne Identity.” It reached a satisfying narrative wrap-up five years later with “The Bourne Ultimatum.”

But Hollywood’s reliance on proven box-office winners is such that an attempted resuscitation was probably inevitable. Though Damon abstained from participating, Tony Gilroy, veteran scribe of all three previous installments, returns to direct and co-write this tangentially related tale.

Standard shootouts, fatal vehicular accidents and at least one close-up scene of medical unpleasantness mark the results as off-limits for youngsters. Most adults, though, will probably take these elements – along with the script's occasional lapses into foul language – in stride.

In the wake of Bourne’s public exposure of a top-secret program that biologically altered government spies to enhance their skills, the intelligence establishment – led by retired Air Force Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) – decides to terminate a similar Defense Department project. Terminate, that is, with extreme literalness: They plan to kill everyone involved.

However, one subject, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), manages to escape assassination. The weapon sent against him as he trains for future missions in the Alaskan wilderness? A drone; how topical!

Making his way back to civilization, Cross seeks out Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the researcher who treated him as he was being endowed with his heightened powers. Shearing has just had a close call of her own – no coincidence, that – when a drugged or brainwashed colleague shot up their lab, thus disposing of all his other co-workers.

Together, the two survivors go on the lam, and struggle to evade their pursuers’ global reach.

Though it winds up in Manila, Gilroy’s convoluted cat-and-mouse game doesn't amount to much of a thrilla. With his subdued demeanor, Renner’s Cross makes a less-than-charismatic centerpiece around which to try to orbit the overly detailed proceedings. Norton’s Byer, meanwhile, gives vent to such weighty – make that ponderous – announcements as “We are morally indefensible, and absolutely necessary!”

Byer is also given no fewer than five malign cohorts (Stacy Keach, Dennis Boutsikaris, Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn) with whom to debate, in heated tones, the fate of various hidden organizations and codenamed schemes. Treadstone, Blackbriar, Outcome, Candent. ... “There was never just one,” declares the movie’s advertising slogan. Well, OK, but did there have to be so many?

The film contains considerable, at times harsh, violence with some gore, about a half-dozen uses each of profanity and crude language and a few crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

(By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service)