Saturday, November 30, 2013

825. Total Recall (1990)

Running Time: 109 minutes
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven
Written By: Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Gary Goldman, from the short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick
Main Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside
Click here to view the trailer


So the turkey leftovers are just about wiped out, the Christmas shopping season is in full swing and Arnold Schwarzenegger wants nothing more than to go to Mars and kick some interplanetary ass!

Let's jump right into it, shall we? Schwarzenegger is Doug Quaid, an everyday Joe who has dreams of being on Mars with a beautiful woman. When he wakes up, he finds that he's already married to a beautiful woman - Lori (Stone) - albeit a different one from his dream. The film is set in the future, at a time when Mars has been colonized and Douglas is infatuated with the Red Planet, constantly watching news bits about the goings on of Earth's planetary neighbor. He tries to persuade his wife to take a trip, but she turns him down, suggesting Saturn instead. Then Doug hears about Rekall, an agency that specializes in manufacturing memories of virtual reality vacations. Doug, assuming this is the safe route and knowing his wife will never allow the real trip, decides to pay the cash and get implanted memories of a trip to Mars. For an extra few "credits" (this future's version of money) Doug purchases an accessory that will allow him to be a secret agent while away on his virtual vaca'. Once he's hooked in the chair, however, things go wrong and Doug goes a little loony. In an effort to avoid any trouble, the folks at Rekall skip out on the implants and slip Douglas into a Johnny Cab (driven by a dummy). On his way home, Doug is attacked and sent into a violent fight for his life, his memory and his identity. Is everything really happening or are we simply witnessing Doug's Rekall?


Mark this one down, because it won't happen often. I actually found a sci-fi film that I like! I know, I know, it's amazing isn't it? For the unaware, my most detested genre is usually sci-fi. While other kids awed in the face of interplanetary exploration, robots, aliens, silver jumpsuits and flying saucers, I sort of just shrugged my shoulders and gave a hearty *meh*. It's nothing that ever appealed to me and usually the genre leaves me with an ugly taste in my mouth. However, who knew Schwarzenegger would be the man to bring me around! I mean, come on, who can deny this film? To me, it's such a fantastic example of the sci-fi genre, that also blends high action, not to mention forcing you to ponder about dreams, memories and all that cool stuff.

You know what I really love about this movie? The fact that you can actually make a case for why it's so cliche and Hollywood. You see, in my opinion, nothing we view past Doug's visit to Rekall is actually really happening. It's all a part of his virtual reality vacation and the special, added secret agent feature. Therefore, since everything we're seeing is manufactured (fake), we have a reason why Doug, an ordinary man, is suddenly transformed into a super hero - because that's what he paid for. It also accounts for all the over the top special effects, excessive gun battles and the heroic ending. It's perfect. It's a loop hole that allows you to NOT roll your eyes at things that would normally be eye-rollable. Also, was it just me or did the plot to this remind anyone else of "Open Your Eyes"/"Vanilla Sky"? Man is unhappy with everyday life, so he goes to an agency that replaces reality with something more appealing. I'd have a hard time believing that the original author of the "Open Your Eyes" screenplay wasn't influenced by this, at least a little bit.

Seriously though, for a good time call Paul...Verhoeven, that is. Here, he swoops in a seriously kick ass movie, one that's enjoyable, one that makes you think about the future, the prospect of colonizing Mars, the whole memory/identity/reality vs. perception thing and gives you loads of special effects, not to mention gun battles, car chases, explosions AND a twist & turn at every corner. Whew! This is a good one!

RATING: 8.5/10  I watched about ten minutes of the 2012 remake OnDemand today and wasn't feeling it too much. I may try it again soon, we'll see.


November 29, 2013  11:57pm


  1. MMmmm.. I doubt you are expecting me to be rushing to join in with praising this one.
    I've seen it, it was .. OK, ish, I will even admit to have watched it voluntarily, pre 'doing the book', as the premise sounded interesting, and not getting TOO bored.
    I still had difficulty taking an Arnie film seriously and still clock watched through the bits you are supposed to be watching this film for - the action / shoot out sequences,but I got through it without groaning too much.

    1. I watched it once Pre-BOOK too and liked it then too. I think the fact that Arnie is in it, is why I like it. It always surprises me how good it is, despite his presence. Fair warning: I like The Terminator movies too.

  2. Well, we will wait and see what comes of the Terminator ones when they arrive.. (they haven;t yet have they.. or have I missed them?)

    1. Nope, they haven't been done yet. I have them tucked away for the grand finale.

  3. I first watched this in college as part of a weekly series of action flicks. Most of the movies were of course just a dumb series of explosions, killing, and mayhem, so I was pleasantly surprised when this one had some interesting concepts behind it. Still not a great movie, IMHO, but definitely a great representative of the sci-fi/action genre.

    1. Man, I guess it was just me, but I really loved this one. I had a blast with it! Definitely one of the best pure action/sci-fi films I've seen.


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