Total Recall

USA, 1990, M, 113 mins. Director: Paul Verhoeven. Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin.

Total Recall is classic Arnie and classic SF. Director Verhoeven (Robocop, Basic Instinct) based this violent intellectual maze of a film on a short story by SF's greatest writer, Philip K. Dick (whose work also inspired Ridley Scott's Bladerunner). The result follows Dick's story faithfully for a while and then veers off on its own equally entertaining course. Arnie plays Doug Quaid, a regular 21st-century guy who learns he's somebody else (or is he?), and takes off to Mars (or does he?) to find out exactly who that somebody is (and, of course, to wreak some serious havoc). Someone's screwed with his head, and after an hour or so you'll feel like someone's screwed with yours, too.

Like all the best movies of the genre, Total Recall is crammed with futuristic atmosphere. You'll be left convinced that colonies on Mars will be exactly that shade of red, and that annoying robot taxis are just around the corner. If you've already seen the film, a repeat viewing will allow you to catch some of the details Verhoeven loves to hide away in the corner of the frame. You'll also be able to work out some of the plot's many twists—only to find that new ones replace them.


First published in a reviews booklet of the ANU Film Group.
This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1993, 2000 Rory Ewins