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Total Recall
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Paul Verhoeven

Written By:
Philip K. Dick, Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Gary Goldman, Jon Povill

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox, Roy Brocksmith, Marshall Bell, Michael Champion, Roy Brocksmith, Ray Baker, Rosemary Dunsmore, David Knell, Alexia Robinson, Dean Norris, Debbie Lee Carrington, Lycia Naff, Robert Costanzo, Mark Carlton, Mel Johnson Jr., Michael LaGuardia

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Total Recall (1990)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
July 16th, 2007

'Total Recall' might feature Arnold Schwarzenegger's best performance, about the only one where he is not an invincible superhero, but really just an ordinary guy, caught up in an elaborate plot set in a richly textured sci-fi world, inspired, as several others, by the fiction of Philip K Dick.

Douglas Quaid lives a pleasant life, married to the beautiful Lori (Stone) and working in what appears to be a stone quarry of some kind, operating a jackhammer, an easy task for someone of such imposing physique. It is the future, of course, and Mars, and most of the other planets in the solar system have been colonized. Douglas keeps dreaming about Mars, and wishes to go there, for what he believes is the first time. However, Lori's reluctance to do this leads him to a company that implants memories into people's minds, so that they can experience and remember very vividly things they have never done. To make a long and complicated story short, Douglas finds out that his whole identity is an illusion. He is actually a guy named Hauser, presumably dead, his own memories deleted, to conceal something of vital importance to Cohaagen (Ronny Cox), the nasty dictator of Mars, who rations out air for his oppressed subjects, many of whom are involved in an underground resistance movement. Cohaagen sends his meanest lieutenant, Richter (Ironside) to capture Douglas, but things do not work out so smoothly. Douglas ends up on Mars himself, and makes contact with an old flame of Hauser's, Melina (Rachel Ticotin), one of the rebels.

There is a wealth of complex secrets, and multiple betrayals, not to mention the clever and intriguing underlying premise of manufactured thoughts and the science of creating fake memories so real they fool the brain into accepting them as genuine. This is one of the most inventive, visually exciting science fiction films I have ever seen. Just about every scene has some kind of special effect, and Mars itself is rendered in glorious detail, red sands covering the outer surface, the inner portion populated by humans and mutants, ranging impressively from children with malformed faces to three-breasted hookers. And Schwarzenegger is always convincing, he takes quite a beating, and rarely gets through a fight unscathed, as we have come to expect from him and other action stars.

Frenetic pacing keeps the momentum pumping, and it never slows down for a second, and there is always a possibility that everything and everyone Douglas encounters could simply exist only in his dreams, and not in reality. Cox and especially Ironside make for exceptionally cold-hearted villains, while Stone makes for a savvy seductress, the kind of role she would immortalize in Basic Instinct, though here, it is the product of competent acting on her part, and not just beauty alone.

Evaluating Arnold's career, prior to his election as governor of California, one might not find any honest examples of true acting talent, but he consistently delivered the goods as an action star, more so than Stallone or Seagal or Van Damne, and he made better, more entertaining films than those three combined, many of which were international blockbusters that made him an icon of American cinema. 'Total Recall' is one of the best movies he ever made, along with True Lies and the Terminator series. But the joys of 'Total Recall', ultimately, are found, in the storytelling and the special effects, the foundations of any decent science fiction flick.

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