After a man goes for a virtual vacation to the planet of Mars, he
wakes up thinking he is a double agent and goes to the planet for real.
Total Recall (1990)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Written by Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Gary Goldman
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin,
Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside, Mel Johnson Jr.
Based on the short story "We Can Remember It
For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick
Oscar Wins - Best Visual Effects
Oscar Nominations - Best Sound Editing, Best Sound
Total Recall is a bit of a mess. Admittedly, it might've been quite spectacular when it came out in 1990, but it has aged like a fine cheese. The acting is atrocious, the visuals are ridiculous, and the plot is a topsy-turvy rollercoaster, and not in a good way. Ah-nold has done substantially better work before and after this flick, and I don't really understand why sci-fi fans hold it in such high regard. Compared to Verhoeven's other sci-fi efforts like RoboCop and Starship Troopers, Total Recall is a goofy shambles.
So far as I can tell, the plot revolves around construction worker Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger), who learns he is actually a brainwashed secret agent named Hauser, who works for the guy who runs Mars, and is involved in a plot to monopolize Mars's natural resources. Yeah, it's a doozy, and it might not even be real, depending on how you look at the movie. But there's so much cheese in the film that you really aren't that focused on the plot to begin with. Some of the dialogue ("Consider that a divorce") is so remarkably corny, that you can't help but laugh during scenes that (I assume) are intended to be serious.
I wanted so much to like this sci-fi classic, but regrettably my standards have risen and I found it too ridiculous. It takes more than three boobs to make a movie great, and this film was sorely lacking in character, performances, and story. It's like Verhoeven and the producers snorted a ton of coke and crammed every sci-fi trope they could think of into this film. Plus, I haven't read it, but I'd bet money that Philip K. Dick's story is nothing like this.
Paul Verhoeven has made some of the best sci-fi films of the 1990s and Total Recall is further proof of that. The film is a smart movie that makes you question who to trust and if what you're watching is real. It's also amazingly violent and a hell of a good time.
The plot is a hard one to tell people without spoiling some aspect of the film. I highly advise anyone going in to watch it completely blind. Luckily, I can say, without spoiling anything, that performances are great across the board. Arnold Schwarzenegger is at his most charismatic as Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who could be a double agent. Michael Ironside is also a lot of fun as Richter, a man who is determined to hunt down and kill Quaid. Also, for anyone wondering, this is the movie to feature the iconic three-breasted woman.
Total Recall is a fun movie that not only questions everything you watch, but never really answers them either. It pretty much demands repeat viewings. This is a great thing, though, as you'll want to watch this movie again and again. A great movie that sci-fi, action, and Schwarzenegger fans will enjoy.