Often unfairly maligned, this 1988 remake of the classic 1950 thriller is as enjoyable as it is stuffed with improbable red herrings. It's arguable that some of the unfavourable reviews may have been tainted by the fact that this was the debut feature from Max Headroom creators Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. Their version is hardly subtle, but it's more consistently exciting than the overly confused film noir original; and it redeems itself with a cracking ending.
The film opens with Quaid stumbling into a police station to report his own murder. With 24 hours to live, he has to find out why he's being slowly - and fatally - poisoned. Confusing? Certainly, but it's wise not to try and fathom a movie that is filled with ridiculous twists. Instead, enjoy Quaid's superb performance as an English Professor who has given up on his life when he suddenly realises that it's about to be taken away from him.
The answer (and this is not a spoiler) seems to lie with a student of his who has written a brilliant manuscript and then committed suicide. in addition, some rather jealous individuals on campus will do anything for success, and Quaid realises that he's next on the elimination list.
Essentially a chase movie, ludicrous plot devices fly thick and fast, including Quaid buying himself a little insurance by super-gluing his hand to a suitably startled Meg Ryan. The pace is fast though, and performances good in what is occasionally a crudely over-stylised film for 1988, but nevertheless calmer than many of the ultra-fast-cut movies of today.
"D.O.A." is on BBC1 at 10.45pm, Wednesday 25th April 2001.