Total Recall (1990)

DVD Cover (Artisan Special Edition)
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Overall Rating 73%
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Connections: Total Recall

Construction worker Douglas Quaid discovers a memory chip in his brain during a virtual-reality trip. He also finds that his past has been invented to conceal a plot of planetary domination. Soon, he's off to Mars to find out who he is and who planted the chip. --TMDb
Review by Griffinheart
Added: January 20, 2008
Some people have told me that Total Recall is a mindless action movie, and it is--if you're stupid. Total Recall works on levels within levels within levels and is one of the better movies you'll ever see.

The dreams of Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) are filled with visions of Mars and, often, a beautiful brunette, which irritates his wife (Sharon Stone) to no end. After failing to convince his wife to move to Mars, Quaid begins thinking about visiting Rekall, a company which can implant memories of fantastical vacations straight into your mind. These vacations are even said to be better than the real thing because there is no "lost luggage, lousy weather, [or] crooked taxi drivers." A coworker at a construction company warns him that he'll get lobotomized, but Quaid's enthusiasm isn't diminished.

At Rekall, Quaid tries to hurry the company's president through his pitch but is stopped when the special options are mentioned. "What is it that is exactly the same about every vacation you've ever taken?" he's asked. "You. You're the same." Quaid ends up purchasing an extra package where he'll be a secret agent during his Mars trip. However, something goes wrong during the implantation. Quaid starts thrashing about and screaming that the technicians are "blowing his cover" until he's shot up with several doses of tranquilizers. The president is very angry that his people couldn't even do a simple double-implant but...the technicians hadn't implanted the spy training yet: someone else had already modified Quaid's memory. The president becomes very scared because only one group would ever do that: the Agency. He order's Quaid's memories wiped and his money refunded. Quaid wakes confused and disoriented...especially when his coworkers and his wife pull out automatic weapons and try to kill him.

It's around this point that the movie splits into three possible realities. Is the bloody, bullet-filled adventure to Mars to rescue the persecuted populace from the despotic corporate overlord (deep breath, then continue the sentence): Case 1 - Reality? Were buried memories actually recovered at Rekall?; Case 2 - A perfectly functioning spy memory?; or Case 3 - An implant gone horribly wrong that put Quaid into a spiral of self-generated fantasy? Little bits of the story support each scenario such as how certain pictures at Rekall perfectly match "secret" artifacts hidden on Mars (supporting Cases 2 and/or 3) or how a women Quaid meets on Mars perfectly matches the one from his dreams (Case 1). That all cases are supported will keep you guessing all the way through the movie and past the credits; the ambiguity really raises this movie above most other movies.

The story aside, this movie was extremely well produced. While we have come a long way in special effects in the almost 18 years since its release, the sets and make-up effects look excellent. Most of the filming was done in and around Mexico City which turned out to have a great futuristic look due to some building's "New Brutalism" architectural style (defined by raw, angular concrete structures). There are gun and fist fights galore to the point that many complained about the movie's level of violence (it didn't bother me at all, but the squeamish might want to looks elsewhere). At the time of release, June 1st of 1990, the movie hadn't the largest budget of any film developed in Hollywood, and it shows.

I definitely recommend this movie and, in honor of the three scenarios, offer three scores for you to choose from based on what you want to get out of the movie:

Mindless action movie - 8/10
Intelligent action movie - 9/10
Movie that has a chick with three boobs - 10/10
Average: 9/10
Nirrad #1: Nirrad - added 01/20/2008, 09:37 PM
Great movie. I've seen it so many times, yet I'm still not sick of it. Definitely one of Arnold's best. And you gotta love the girl with the three knockers...lol.
Griffinheart #2: Griffinheart - added 01/20/2008, 09:46 PM
You know one of them's paper mache, right? :D
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 01/20/2008, 10:38 PM
I'm glad you're here to tell us one of them was fake. Thanks.
Ginose #4: Ginose - added 01/20/2008, 10:42 PM
...he was quoting "Family Guy"...
Edd #5: Edd - added 01/21/2008, 08:43 PM
What do you mean fake?
Anyways, Arnold's second best movie. 9/10
Ginose #6: Ginose - added 06/09/2009, 09:56 AM
Alright, the praise from you bastards made me re-watch it after hating it as a kid... on blu-ray, no less. Well, it's not any better but a few scenes stood out, overall. Griff, really n ot sure what you mean "works on many levels", it really doesn't present itself in anycomplex sort of way. Even picking up on the possiblity that everything is still fabricated, almost everything in it leans towards the first option, especially everything after the confrontation with the doctor at the Hilton... yes, that includes the change from Quaid to Hauser like it was nothing. In truth, I'm sorry, but I can't accept t hat this movie was anywhere near as complex as people try to tell me it is. Great action film with a fun plot, good effects, three-tits and cool guns, but I just can't think it anything more than that.

8.1/10. Great fun. Will watch again.
Lucid Dreams #7: Lucid Dreams - added 05/26/2010, 11:45 PM
I love the .1 in there Ginose, I enjoyed it about .9 more then you though. 9/10
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