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Movie Review: Total Recall (1990)


Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

The one question which I commonly get asked is why do I limit myself to only reviewing cinema releases? Good question. I’ve always toyed with the idea so why the hold up? I don’t know. So I proposed a question on my Facebook profile as to what movie people would like me to review and from that selection I decided to go with this Arnie classic (in fact, there were a ton of Schwarzenegger films suggested and the majority of them will be reviewed soon).  With Arnold recently being announced as the latest member of the WWE Hall of Fame the timing is ideal to review this classic.

So what’s the deal here? Arnold Schwarzenegger is Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who wants more from life. One of his ambitions is to visit the colonised planet, Mars. It isn’t cheap getting there though (Never thought I’d say that about a fucking planet) but that’s what he wants. Doug has been having these dreams where he visits Mars and hooks up with this mysterious brunette. How’s he going to do all this on a shoestring budget?  His wife, Lori (Sharon Stone) isn’t so keen on it–she’d prefer a trip to Saturn, or a space cruise. I wish I was making this random shit up for you guys. Quaid decides to pay a visit to “Rekall”, a company that can plant memories into people’s brains, so our Dougie is able to experience the thrills of Mars without actually going there. Sounds awesome, but during the procedure something goes wrong (damn technology); Quaid discovers that his entire life is actually a false memory and that the people who implanted it in his head now want him dead. All this just because Arnold wants to go to mars!

It’s an over the top cult classic with the action and violence being cranked up to the max. Who better to star in the lead role than the big Austrian himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger? It’s what you expect from a Schwarzenegger film. Action, violence, comedy, camp one-liners and Arnold wearing a turban. That alone is one of the many reasons why this version is a bazillion times better than that awful 2012 remake. Oh yeah, that three breasted woman too. Imagine the fun you can have with her right? (We should start an online campaign to hook her up with Dean “Titty Master” Ambrose) Total Recall is a fascinating concept which makes you question what fact is and what is fiction. Those lines are blurred. Apparently Total Recall is actually based on a book called “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” which I had no idea about. I always thought this was an original piece. So next time you need a useless random fact, there you go!

The film is notable for its special effects by Rob Bottin, which were ahead of their time back in 1990, and its fantastic production and art design, which manage to make us feel both that we’re experiencing a vicarious trip to a “future grunge” Mars and an almost “Doctor Who” (1963)-ish absurdly artificial reality, complete with supersaturated red skies, ala Frank R. Paul’s illustrated covers for the Amazing Stories fiction magazine. With all that being said, it’s an utter shame it doesn’t get the recognition it truly deserves.

It’s fair to say that Terminator 2 is Arnie’s best ever role. With that in mind, I personally believe that Total Recall is his second best role (Apologies to you Kindergarten Cop, Junior and Jingle all the way fans).

Rating: **** (Champion)


One comment on “Movie Review: Total Recall (1990)

  1. garethrhodes
    March 25, 2015

    Good review. This is a fantastic film, full of invention and wit. I’d agree that it’s the second best role for Arnie, after The Terminator films. Him and Verhoeven were a good match.

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