Total Recall 2070: Machine Dreams (1999)
Total Recall 2070: Machine Dreams (1999)

Genre: Action and Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 23 min.

Release Date: March 7th, 1999 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Mario Azzopardi Actors: Michael Easton, Karl Pruner, Cynthia Preston, Michael Anthony Rawlins, Judith Krant, Matthew Bennett

 


 

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pening title credits betray the fact that “Total Recall 2070: Machine Dreams” started as a television series pilot before becoming marketed and released as a feature-length movie. This production is, in fact, merely the first couple of episodes of what was a tragically – or rather appropriately – short-lived series. Though it has little to do with the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger film with which it shares its name, at least this flimsy spin-off still involves science-fiction elements and Mars.

It opens with a sex scene, which is nothing more than a Rekall trip – a popular recreational activity in 2070, facilitated by a mechanical chair that generates virtual dreams. But when Jimmy (Vince Corazza) and Paula (Carole Mackereth) are gunned down shortly after emerging from their Rekall session, Citizens Protection Bureau detectives David Hume (Michael Easton) and Nick Blanchard (Thomas Kretschmann) arrive to discover a rogue service android who must be stopped by significant firepower (an illegal 12mm weapon picked up and secreted away by Hume). Nicky doesn’t make it out alive, leaving his partner in a funk and David’s wife Olivia (Cynthia Preston) distraught over how a synthetic lifeform could possibly harm a human.

Almost laughably, the couple return to their home for another sex scene, firmly putting this film into the realm of a sleazy, exploitive sci-fi thriller – not a thought-provoking examination of A.I. rights, the manipulation of memories, the fantasy of augmented dreams, or the level of self-aware consciousness required to determine humanity. In short time, Hume is given a new partner – the straight-laced, uncomfortably proper and professional Ian Farve (Karl Pruner) – and a new assignment, concerning immigrants Mr. and Mrs. Soodor, who seem confused as to whether or not they actually visited the Galapagos Islands or merely took a virtual vacation using Rekall. Plus, they have fleeting memories of a son with telepathic abilities. And a few scenes later, they’re all immersed in another laser-blasting shootout (a rarity for this world, which experiences an average of two homicide investigations per year).

It’s evident early on that this venture isn’t really interested in crafting a unique or intelligent plot. Instead, it hopes to lure pre-sold audiences with its title and keep them in their seats with continual sequences of action and nudity. The tone is somewhat noirish, while the look is entirely derivative of “Blade Runner” (which follows along with character mentalities, contributing to lines like, “You don’t kill androids. They’re not alive.”). Strangely, an android villain seems to channel Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty, while a random detective is styled to look conspicuously close to Edward James Olmos’ Gaff. Meanwhile, Asian languages and influences drift about in the background, as a subplot emerges in which Dr. Gish (Hrant Alianak) is targeted by androids who hope he can extend their lifespans (or memory, specifically, which grants them a sense of expanded existence).

It’s almost embarrassing just how many ideas are lifted from Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece. But the sci-fi technology doesn’t quite line up, especially when the use of “Total Recall’s” implanted memories appear incompatible with the stolen tech from “Blade Runner”; Rekall vacations are little more than virtual reality gimmicks, which aren’t advanced enough to match the fact that indistinguishably human-looking androids routinely interact in social settings. And when it comes to an end, not everything is fully resolved, revealing a sloppiness to the structuring and design that can’t really be corrected with the expectation of additional episodes.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10