7.5/10
240,857
391 user 196 critic

Total Recall (1990)

R | | Action, Sci-Fi | 1 June 1990 (USA)
Trailer
1:02 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $9.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real - or does he?

Director:

Writers:

(short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale") (as Phillip K. Dick), (screen story) | 5 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
1,614 ( 234)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Predator (1987)
Action | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.

Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall
True Lies (1994)
Action | Comedy | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A fearless, globe-trotting, terrorist-battling secret agent has his life turned upside down when he discovers his wife might be having an affair with a used car salesman.

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold
RoboCop (1987)
Action | Crime | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories.

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy
Action | Crime | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A wrongly convicted man must try to survive a public execution gauntlet staged as a game show.

Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto
Commando (1985)
Action | Adventure | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A retired elite Black Ops Commando launches a one man war against a group of South American criminals who have kidnapped his daughter to blackmail him into starting a revolution and getting an exiled dictator back into power.

Director: Mark L. Lester
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya
Action | Sci-Fi | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Humans in a fascistic, militaristic future do battle with giant alien bugs in a fight for survival.

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer
Predator 2 (1990)
Action | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Amidst a territorial gang war in 1997, a sophisticated alien hunter stalks the citizens of Los Angeles and the only man between him and his prey is veteran L.A.P.D. officer, Lieutenant Mike Harrigan.

Director: Stephen Hopkins
Stars: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Kevin Peter Hall
Twins (1988)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A physically perfect but innocent man goes in search of his long-lost twin brother, who is a short small-time crook.

Director: Ivan Reitman
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Kelly Preston
Eraser (1996)
Action | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A Witness Protection specialist becomes suspicious of his co-workers when dealing with a case involving high-tech weapons.

Director: Chuck Russell
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, James Caan
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr Zorg at bay.

Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman
Action | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A human-looking indestructible cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs.

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
Red Heat (1988)
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A tough Russian policeman is forced to partner up with a cocky Chicago police detective when he is sent to Chicago to apprehend a Georgian drug lord who killed his partner and fled the country.

Director: Walter Hill
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Belushi, Peter Boyle
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Roy Brocksmith ...
...
...
David Knell ...
Alexia Robinson ...
...
Mark Carlton ...
Bartender
Edit

Storyline

Douglas Quaid is haunted by a recurring dream about a journey to Mars. He hopes to find out more about this dream and buys a holiday at Rekall Inc. where they sell implanted memories. But something goes wrong with the memory implantation and he remembers being a secret agent fighting against the evil Mars administrator Cohaagen. Now the story really begins and it's a rollercoaster ride until the massive end of the movie. Written by Harald Mayr <marvin@bike.augusta.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Get ready for the ride of your life. See more »

Genres:

Action | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 June 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El vengador del futuro  »

Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,788 (USA) (10 August 2012)

Gross:

$119,412,921 (USA) (17 August 2012)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints) (4 channels)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Scripts for Total Recall (1990) had been kicking around Hollywood so long people thought the project was jinxed. Dino De Laurentiis owned the film rights and had tried to get the project off the ground twice in Rome and Australia. Originally it was less violent and more about the fantasy of taking a trip to Mars. Schwarzenegger was annoyed that De Laurentiis didn't offer it to him because he really wanted the part. Patrick Swayze and Richard Dreyfuss had been in the running to play Quaid but De Laurentiis ran into money troubles (not for the first time), so Schwarzenegger tried to persuade Carolco to bankroll the film and they bought it off him. See more »

Goofs

When Quaid steals the Johnny Cab he rips out the robot driving it and places it in the back seat facing down, but when the robot speaks as Quaid drives away it is facing up. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Doug awakens from a nightmare]
Lori: Doug? Honey, are you all right?
[nods]
Lori: You were dreaming. Doug? Was it about Mars?
[nods]
Lori: [kisses him] Is that better?
Douglas Quaid: Hmm.
Lori: My poor baby. This is getting to be an obsession.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Play the Total Recall (1990) video game by Acclaim. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fight Club (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Rubble City
Written and Performed by Bruno Louchouarn
Produced by Joe La Mont
Published by Lygon St. Music and Barney Sue Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Great action, great suspense, great cultural satire, and a great mind-bender
21 March 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Set during an unspecified future era, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker who longs for a trip to Mars. His wife, Lori (Sharon Stone) isn't so keen on it--she'd prefer a trip to Saturn, or a space cruise. Riding on the subway one day, Quaid notices a television advertisement for a company named Rekall, which specializes in memory implants of vacations. Quaid checks into it as an alternate means of having a "Mars vacation". While at Rekall, he chooses an alternate personality upgrade of a secret agent. However, while undergoing the procedure, something goes wrong. He learns that his Quaid identity was a memory implant and he really _is_ a secret agent. Now that he has his real memory back, he's on the run and he escapes to Mars. But why is everyone after him?

Total Recall, based on "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale", a short story from 1974 by Philip K. Dick (and novelized in conjunction with the film production by Piers Anthony), had a laborious history getting to the silver screen. Tens of drafts were written. Production companies were attached then went out of business. Many directors and stars were attached who either changed their minds or who were dropped. Luckily, Arnold Schwarzenegger talked Carolco into picking up the project for him, with Paul Verhoeven--who'd already proved his mettle on the similarly toned RoboCop (1987)--on board as director, because this is an excellent film.

While Total Recall certainly has influences, including "The Martian Chronicles" (1980), Dune (1984) and the first major film based on a Philip K. Dick work, Blade Runner (1982), it's more notable for the films that it has influenced in subsequent years, including The Fifth Element (1997) and many of the "rubber reality" films such as Abre los ojos (1997)/Vanilla Sky (2001) and The Thirteenth Floor (1999). It's also yet another film on the very long list that have had various elements "adapted" into part of The Matrix (1999)--most explicitly here, the "bug" that Quaid has to remove from his body with a high-tech machine and the possibility of "waking up" from a particular reality by taking "the red pill".

Although it's easy to interpret Total Recall in a very straightforward manner, so that the bulk of what we're seeing at any particular moment and the bulk of the dialogue are the literal reality, very convincing arguments can be made that the majority of the film is a depiction of Quaid's memory implant while in the "patient's chair" at Rekall. And those certainly aren't the only two interpretations possible.

What matters more than thinking one has a "right answer", though, is the deeply captivating story that provokes our interpretations and the amount of fun we have getting there. Verhoeven and the scriptwriting team, which included Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, the writing team behind the Alien films (beginning with Alien, 1979), never let us go very long without another plot twist, most of which force a reinterpretation of the material that went before. The twists occur about once per every ten minutes, if not more frequently.

The film is notable for its special effects by Rob Bottin, which were far ahead of their time, 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.

Some locations in Mexico were used for the film, including some subway shots on Mars, and actual commercial sign age was incorporated into the film. There's a lot of fun to be had noticing all of the cultural differences and similarities that the future era of the film will bring. Verhoeven delights in subtle glimpses of various symbols and accoutrement's. His view of the future is one full of corruption, commercialism and decadence. He doesn't have much confidence in a "bright new world" as humans spread out to new territory.

Verhoeven is basically extending the way things are now to the future; it's as if he sees our state as indicative of human nature, so that as long as we're humans, people are going to be taking advantage of one another, trying to control one another, engaging in behavior that's a conflict between desires and societal mores, but also helping out each other when the going gets tough. In these respects, Total Recall has culture-satirical similarities to later films such as Starship Troopers (1997), which isn't surprising given that Verhoeven directed both films. It's notable that Total Recall's future is not quite as bleak as Starship Trooper's.

But the film is hardly less violent. Verhoeven's initial cut was given an X by the MPAA for violence. A number of scenes had to have small edits, most of which have thankfully been restored on at least one special edition DVD. The violence here is a lot more small scale and personal than Starship Troopers. In terms of the visceral, Total Recall often rides a gray area somewhere between action and horror. While the action isn't as explosive as many Schwarzenegger films, the suspense never resolves until the end. This is an amazing thrill ride of a film.


228 of 259 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Must be real? dblofive
[Edit added] Proof it is a dream (no, it has nothing to do with Melina) hal-9010
Dream or real? Verylegendary
proof that the whole movie never happened...? dev850
Come on Total Recall lovers. Can you get 100% in this little quiz? cottinghamster
Very hard to rate the movie after seeing the remake first ghostofchurch
Discuss Total Recall (1990) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?