Was this an elaborate attempt to make me feel bad for pointing out how unconvincing I found some elements of the Dark Knight Rises? Because, man, I recant. Right from the off, this re-imagining of Paul Verhoeven’s re-imagining of Phillip K Dick’s short story asks you to swallow some real humdingers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this film posits a future in which hundreds of thousands of people commute daily from Australia to Europe via a giant tunnel through the earth’s core. If only that was as unbelievable as it got. For the first hour or so, I was actually quite enjoying it, I must confess. It didn’t take itself half as seriously as Dark Knight Rises so I could cut it some slack and appreciate the excellent design work, if a little Blade Runnery, and the quality action sequences, but pretty soon I was wondering – must they lavish so much skill, effort and money on such incoherent material? The cumulative effect of that much unbelievableness became quite wearing, and by the end I was squirming. Nothing really made sense, and not in a ‘is it all a dream’ way, just in a ‘is it all a lot of bollocks’ way.
Maybe it’s my rose tinted glasses, but as I recall (totally), the 1990 version may have been shiny and cheesy but it was fast, ruthless, funny, had memorable characters and it actually made some kind of sense. It was about greed. Villain Ronnie Cox, the undisputed champion of late 80s corporate sleazeballs, reprising his role as a corporate sleazeball in Paul Verhoeven’s other late 80s SF classic about greed Robocop (also being remade, I understand, probably incoherently) had a scheme any board of discerning sleazeballs could understand. He wanted to suppress a wonderful technology that would give free air to all so he could maintain control of Mars and make money selling air. In the 2012 version, when villain Bryan Cranston starts clumsily expounding, his plan makes sense in literally no way at all. In 1990 the rebels were attempting to overthrow Ronnie Cox and free Mars. In 2012 rebel leader Bill Nighy reveals that his rebels haven’t even apparently been doing any fighting. Just hiding in a sealed cathedral in a poison gas cloud. When its windows are smashed, incidentally, no one suffocates. You know when actors of the calibre of Bill Nighy and Bryan Cranston look, well, a little bit like rubbish actors, you’ve got a problem. In 1990, everyman hero Doug Quaid discovers his life is a lie and he’s been manipulated into doing evil by his past self, who was a total shit, but is it all a hallucination anyway? In 2012, everyman hero Doug Quaid discovers his life is a lie and he’s been manipulated into doing evil by his past self, who was actually a really decent guy, but … oh, never mind.
Have our storytelling skills really regressed so far in 22 years?
Holy crap, is it really 22 years since the Schwarzenegger version?