In the near future, a man who discovers that his memory has been chemically altered by the government returns to an authoritarian Martian colony to find his past life there. [Dir: Paul Verhoeven/ Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone/ 113 min/ Action-Adventure, SciFi-Fantasy/ Corrupt Government, Right to Secede]
This story of future events on a colonized Mars is in some ways reminiscent of the colonial American experience. The Martian colony portrayed is a production and export site for raw materials, run by a corrupt governor for the benefit of a fairway Earth government. Denied independence and liberty, the people rebel; but their rebellion is held in check both by a vast security force and through the governor’s monopoly control on the oxygen supply. Enter a former agent of the state. For reasons that are at first unclear, his memory has been erased by the authorities, and he has been placed back on Earth in an ordinary blue-collar job. He has no idea of past life on Mars. When events suddenly trigger his memories to come flooding back, mysterious government agents emerge and try to kill him. In the course of escaping, he winds up going back to Mars to find his past identity. That’s all that can be said without giving too much of the plot away. Suffice it to say that nothing is as it appears, and there’s a twist around every corner. Schwarzenegger is impressive as always in the action-hero roll, the music is appropriately energetic, and the film’s special effects are outstanding. These effects are sometimes gross and often violent but, of course, that goes with the territory. Another plus for the film is its spectacular depiction of the Martian planetscape, which appears as a background in some of the scenes. Because of the relatively strong visual aspect of this film, the bigger the screen it’s seen on the better. A typical Schwarzenegger vehicle, it has plenty of nonstop action – shoot-outs, fights, secret agent escapades, rebellions, and lots of chase scenes – all of which the big guy handles with unusual finesse. If you’re going to have a rebellion against a corrupt government, be sure “Ahnold” is on your side.
This article was reprinted from Jon Osborne's Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video: Movies for the Libertarian Millenium, available in the Advocates Liberty Store.