Review of 'Total Recall'

total_recall_1990.jpg Loosely based on the book “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, “Total Recall” sees the story turned into a big popcorn Arnie action fest.

In the late 21 century Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker who is haunted by disturbing dreams where he is on Mars. Despite his wife's misgivings he visits “Rekall, Inc.” that offers virtual experiences via memory implantation. Something goes wrong with the procedure with Quaid losing his memory and now convinced he is a secret agent being chased by assassins. After discovering he is actually Hauser, a former Mars Intelligence agent, he travels to Mars to figure out what is going on. He is quickly in touch with the resistance, consisting of people mutated due to radiation, who are working for independence from the corrupt corporation controlling the Mars colony, headed by Vilos Cohaggen (Ronny Cox). Quaid (Hauser?) has upset Cohaggen who will do anything to stop him…It is up to Arnie to save the day!

Another cheesy Arnie flick that certainly is not as polished or well-fleshed out as the Terminator films but does offer a certain amount of testosterone fun (e.g. quips such as “Consider that a divorce” having gunned down his, admittedly quite hostile, wife). I do not think this film has dated very well and to modern eyes is fairly offensive though, having said that, turn off those blinkers and try to enjoy the action as there is a lot of that with some incredible massive set pieces. Lots of running and incredibly visceral violence – At one point Quaid uses the body of a dead pedestrian to absorb the bullets of his attackers. Expect blood, dismemberment and quite well done prosthetics for the mutants Quaid encounters on Mars.

Total Recall actually has a rather sophisticated story that keeps you guessing right up to the end (and perhaps beyond). Indeed, what is actually going on here has been the subject of discussion ever since the film was originally released. This makes it a cut above standard action flicks however the rest of the plot is fairly ropey and the acting plastic to say the least. The humour, where it exists, tends to be brutal and, often, sexist, again, to modern sensibilities. The effects are reasonably good considering they were made without computer graphics (one of the last such films) but do also show their age to current audiences.

Grab popcorn. Turn off brain (but not all the way). Step back 30 years. Turn off your sexism filter (seriously). Keep your hands in at all times. Enjoy the ride.


Review Date: 2019-03-09

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Studio: Carolco Pictures

Year: 1990

Length: 113 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction