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Total Recall (1990)

R  |   |  Action, Sci-Fi  |  1 June 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 227,084 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 382 user | 190 critic | 17 from Metacritic.com

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?



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



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


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


They stole his mind, now he wants it back. See more »


Action | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

1 June 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El vengador del futuro  »

Box Office


$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Christopher Reeve was offered, but turned down, the role of Douglas Quaid. See more »


Stuntman's face is visible when Quaid jumps onto the subway car after breaking the window. See more »


[first lines]
[Doug awakens from a nightmare]
Lori: Doug? Honey, are you all right?
Lori: You were dreaming. Doug? Was it about Mars?
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 »


Referenced in Disturbing Behavior (1998) See more »


Mutant Dancing
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

A Satirical Technological Commentary, While Still Being An Enjoyable Sci-Fi Romp
31 October 2007 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Danish director, Paul Verhoeven, released his first American film in 1987; this was RoboCop, an action film which has since become situated in a league of its own. Not only was it a hit in the Western world, but a global box-office bragger and a critically acclaimed triumph. Subsequent to the success, Verhoeven was chosen to direct a film adapted from a novella by Philip K. Dick ("We Can Remember It for you Wholesale") and turned it into the 1990 action classic, Total Recall. Two surprisingly intelligent action films made in succession allowed Verhoeven to become an established film-maker, who was at liberty to take the content of mainstream films distinctly further.

Arnold Schwarzenegger took leading-man once again for Total Recall, just like the majority of films he starred in during the '80s and '90s. As with The Terminator, Predator and even Commando; his artificial and easy-to-mock acting went centre stage once again. Even though Schwarzenegger is far from being named a great actor, he is certainly situated as one of the most likable and satisfying (from a Blockbuster standpoint). His deadened approach is what makes his roles so true their form, and he is nearly always playing characters with seemingly robotic personalities. Growing up watching "Arnie actioners" is something I have always treasured, which is why his films are cherished memories and also the reason for making re-watches such an electrifying event.

Fusing reality with delusion (in what is essentially a case of identity crisis) is the core theme of Total Recall. Recurring -the now too-close-to-home- ideas of technological corruption reluctantly controlling a man's livelihood is hardly a topic which lacks the option of philosophical debate. In fact, for the action/science-fiction genre Verhoeven works wonders in making what seems to be a relatively stable, easy-going mainstream archetype into something which speaks out on politics and technology. Indeed, with the rapid increase and reliability on technology there is no doubt that us consumers will eventually resort to purchasing faulty, radioactive brain implants. Sadly, I am not joking, as I do believe that the foreseeable future of technology's control over our lives is inevitable.

Total Recall worked wonders for special-effects and make-up during the beginning of the '90s. Lifelike mutants and grand set-pieces, including architecture resembling art-deco and prefabricated design drove the film's ambiance. As with most action films the average shot length (ASL) is visibly short, but is acceptable for a film of its kind and works adequately when put in conjunction with the ultra-violent fight scenes. Villains are stereotypical, heroes sprout graciously eccentric one-liners ("Consider it a divorce!") and the array of characters are befuddling, but these are mere reasons why Total Recall is a cinematic product of its time, which still foreshadowed future possibilities.

If you are a person who takes everything far too seriously, then Total Recall is not appropriate viewing. However, if you are prepared to have an open-mind and realise that action films can still be clever (in this case due to a fantastically wrapped screenplay) you are likely to acquire a barrel of rip-roaring violence and furtive intellect. All too regularly is the film misconstrued as a meaningless American blockbuster, something it actually refrains from potentially becoming.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
How did ReKall get an image of Melina? Citizen56
what was Cohaagens plan? jt-294
Dream or real? Verylegendary
proof that the whole movie never happened...? dev850
Proof it is a dream (no, it has nothing to do with Melina) jt-294
Come on Total Recall lovers. Can you get 100% in this little quiz? cottinghamster
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