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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dan O'Bannon was never happy with the ending that was filmed - the Martian machine creating a breathable atmosphere in thirty seconds flat. He felt it had no thematic connection with Philip K. Dick's concept of memory implants - as outlined in the original short story 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale'.
In an interview with Cinefantastique magazine (April 1991) O'Bannon revealed his concept: "That wasn't supposed to be a three-fingered Martian hand print [on the machine]. That was supposed to have been a print of [Quaid's] hand which matched only his hand. Quaid, Earth's top secret agent, went to Mars and entered this compound. The machine killed him and created a synthetic duplicate. He is that synthetic duplicate. He cannot be killed because he can anticipate danger before it happens. He is also omnipotent and because he cannot be killed, Earth wants to kill him but cannot. That's why they go to all the trouble to erase his brain to make him think he's nobody. It's the only way they can control him. Audiences don't question it when movie heroes go through adventures and don't get killed. I thought it was clever to actually have a reason for it. At the end of the picture, Quaid puts his hand on the device and it all comes back to him, who he really is. His total recall of his identity is that he is a creation of a Martian machine. He is, in effect, a resurrection of the Martian race in a synthetic body. He turns and says to all the other characters, 'It's gonna be fun to play God'".
For some reason, O'Bannon's co-writer Ronald Shusett didn't go for this idea and decided instead to employ the rather hokey 'Mars gets an atmosphere' finale. See more »
After the escalator shootout, Richter steps off the escalator, landing his foot next to the dead body of one of his goons. In the next shot, the same foot lands squarely on the goon's chest. See more »
[Doug awakens from a nightmare]
Doug? Honey, are you all right?
You were dreaming. Doug? Was it about Mars?
Is that better?
My poor baby. This is getting to be an obsession.
See more »
The Dubbed Japanese VHS release included the 6 seconds of the scene where Quaid sits in the memory implant unit in reverse with altered music after the credit roll. This was probably intended as a joke by the Japanese localization staff, but lead to major conspiracy that the major event of the film was certainly a dream. See more »
one of the most enjoyable of the Arnold action vehicles
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).
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