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Total Recall (1990)

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

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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 »
1,532 ( 343)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
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?


David Cronenberg was set to direct and even wrote a few drafts of the script before Paul Verhoeven took over. Cronenberg stated that he wanted to cast William Hurt as the lead, and was displeased by the producers' decision to reimagine the lead for an action star such as Schwarzenegger. See more »


When Richter and Helm are waiting by the hotel's service elevator for Lori to bring Quaid down and realize something is wrong, they run over to a normal elevator and go up, yet they end up coming out the service elevator on the 6th floor. 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 The Directors: The Films of David Cronenberg (1999) See more »


Running Out of Air
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

one of the most enjoyable of the Arnold action vehicles
6 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Total Recall has little, if any,by way of passing itself as being 'art'. It is, but more in the sense of it being pop-art, of the director Paul Verhoven paying tribute in visuals to the story by Phillip K. Dick. And it's also one of the more exciting and quotable of those shameless examples of how to do an action film. In this case, however, because it is a P.K. Dick-based story there are some good social bits made in the process. If it isn't as astute or consistent as Blade Runner or Minority Report, it's probably more due to it having to be a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger than it being a full-on thought-provoking work of science fiction on film. But this does rank up high with the other works of the star, as he is in a complex situation in the film- his mind is scrambled, at first, and everything he thought was right as dickens is not. So he's told by 'himself' on a screen he happened to save for himself that he has to get to mars to find out the truth.

There is plenty of good action sequences, but it is more about Verhoven's knack at getting this popularized view of Mars just a little subverted, a little stranger. Some of my favorite scenes involved Scwarzenegger's mishaps and turns of fate as the story and his character took turns. For example, in the scene when Arnold's character wants to get his memory wiped off to Mars and then he flips out in the chair, this is a very entertaining scene in being very ridiculous (try to listen to what he says, or don't as its near unintelligible) as well as following a darker trek in the story. In fact, much of the film works on the strengths of both director and star by having it not too over the top to have some belief in what is going on, but that expectations aren't limited to what might happen as Arnold's character in on Mars uncovering the conspiracy around his messed-up memory.

Featuring a sultry Sharon Stone in a great supporting role (another memorable scene comes with her demise, as usual quotable to the bone), as well as a memorable climax involving the arid Mars air and a certain outrageous reaction to it, I recommend Total Recall for genre fans and even those who might be wary of it being a 'Hollywood' take on Dick. It's not great, and per usual PKD fans might scoff at the faithfulness to the source, but it's better than some of the lesser adaptations of the author. Just go in for a good time and it stands up over time (err, 16 years).

51 of 65 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
Very hard to rate the movie after seeing the remake first ghostofchurch
Come on Total Recall lovers. Can you get 100% in this little quiz? cottinghamster
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