7.5/10
282,276
440 user 219 critic

Total Recall (1990)

Trailer
1:00 | Trailer
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?

Director:

Paul Verhoeven

Writers:

Philip K. Dick (short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale") (as Phillip K. Dick), Ronald Shusett (screen story) | 5 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
1,109 ( 181)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

True Lies (1994)
Action | Comedy | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A fearless, globe-trotting, terrorist-battling secret agent has his life turned upside down when he discovers his wife might be having an affair with a used car salesman while terrorists smuggle nuclear war heads into the United States.

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold
Commando (1985)
Action | Adventure | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A retired Special Forces colonel tries to save his daughter, who was abducted by his former subordinate.

Director: Mark L. Lester
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya
Predator (1987)
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.

Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall
Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A wrongly convicted man must try to survive a public execution gauntlet staged as a game show.

Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto
RoboCop (1987)
Action | Crime | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories.

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy
Eraser (1996)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A Witness Protection specialist becomes suspicious of his co-workers when dealing with a case involving high-tech weapons.

Director: Chuck Russell
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, James Caan
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A tough cop must pose as a kindergarten teacher in order to locate a dangerous criminal's ex-wife, who may hold the key to putting him behind bars.

Director: Ivan Reitman
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

With the help of a magic ticket, a young movie fan is transported into the fictional world of his favorite action movie character.

Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Humans in a fascist, militaristic future wage war with giant alien bugs.

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer
Predator 2 (1990)
Action | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Amidst a territorial gang war in 1997, a sophisticated alien hunter stalks the citizens of Los Angeles and the only man between him and his prey is veteran L.A.P.D. officer, Lieutenant Mike Harrigan.

Director: Stephen Hopkins
Stars: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Kevin Peter Hall
Action | Adventure | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A young boy, Conan, becomes a slave after his parents are killed and tribe destroyed by a savage warlord and sorcerer, Thulsa Doom. When he grows up he becomes a fearless, invincible fighter. Set free, he plots revenge against Thulsa Doom.

Director: John Milius
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow
Twins (1988)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A physically perfect but innocent man goes in search of his long-lost twin brother, who is short, a womanizer, and small-time crook.

Director: Ivan Reitman
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Kelly Preston
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Arnold Schwarzenegger ... Quaid
Rachel Ticotin ... Melina
Sharon Stone ... Lori
Ronny Cox ... Cohaagen
Michael Ironside ... Richter
Marshall Bell ... George / Kuato
Mel Johnson Jr. ... Benny
Michael Champion ... Helm
Roy Brocksmith ... Dr. Edgemar
Ray Baker ... McClane
Rosemary Dunsmore ... Dr. Lull
David Knell ... Ernie
Alexia Robinson ... Tiffany
Dean Norris ... Tony
Mark Carlton Mark Carlton ... Bartender
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

How would you know after memory implantation if your mind is yours? See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Facebook

Country:

USA | Mexico

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 June 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El vengador del futuro See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$25,533,700, 3 June 1990

Gross USA:

$119,412,921

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$261,317,921
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby SR (35 mm prints) (4 channels)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Like the earlier Phillip K. Dick film Blade Runner (1982) this film has a false memories theme. Quaid goes to Rekall to get a memory implant of a trip to Mars that never happened, and Lori tells Quaid "Your whole life is just a dream" (i.e. ALL his memories are fake). See more »

Goofs

No one at Rekall seems to have considered the psychological aftermath of implanting "ego trip" memories, of customers who will vividly remember being star athletes or violent secret agents and suddenly aren't, of the PTSD and other mental breakage that would result. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Doug awakens from a nightmare]
Lori: Doug? Honey, are you all right?
[nods]
Lori: You were dreaming. Doug? Was it about Mars?
[nods]
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 »

Alternate Versions

The Swedish version is also cut, although not as heavily as the above mentioned. Edited are the scenes of Quaid using the innocent bystander as a shield in the subway fight and the first fight after Quaid has been to Rekall. Benny's death has been cut to avoid graphic violence. See more »


Soundtracks

Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet
(uncredited)
Written by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Great action, great suspense, great cultural satire, and a great mind-bender
21 March 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

Set during an unspecified future era, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker who longs for a trip to Mars. His wife, Lori (Sharon Stone) isn't so keen on it--she'd prefer a trip to Saturn, or a space cruise. Riding on the subway one day, Quaid notices a television advertisement for a company named Rekall, which specializes in memory implants of vacations. Quaid checks into it as an alternate means of having a "Mars vacation". While at Rekall, he chooses an alternate personality upgrade of a secret agent. However, while undergoing the procedure, something goes wrong. He learns that his Quaid identity was a memory implant and he really _is_ a secret agent. Now that he has his real memory back, he's on the run and he escapes to Mars. But why is everyone after him?

Total Recall, based on "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale", a short story from 1974 by Philip K. Dick (and novelized in conjunction with the film production by Piers Anthony), had a laborious history getting to the silver screen. Tens of drafts were written. Production companies were attached then went out of business. Many directors and stars were attached who either changed their minds or who were dropped. Luckily, Arnold Schwarzenegger talked Carolco into picking up the project for him, with Paul Verhoeven--who'd already proved his mettle on the similarly toned RoboCop (1987)--on board as director, because this is an excellent film.

While Total Recall certainly has influences, including "The Martian Chronicles" (1980), Dune (1984) and the first major film based on a Philip K. Dick work, Blade Runner (1982), it's more notable for the films that it has influenced in subsequent years, including The Fifth Element (1997) and many of the "rubber reality" films such as Abre los ojos (1997)/Vanilla Sky (2001) and The Thirteenth Floor (1999). It's also yet another film on the very long list that have had various elements "adapted" into part of The Matrix (1999)--most explicitly here, the "bug" that Quaid has to remove from his body with a high-tech machine and the possibility of "waking up" from a particular reality by taking "the red pill".

Although it's easy to interpret Total Recall in a very straightforward manner, so that the bulk of what we're seeing at any particular moment and the bulk of the dialogue are the literal reality, very convincing arguments can be made that the majority of the film is a depiction of Quaid's memory implant while in the "patient's chair" at Rekall. And those certainly aren't the only two interpretations possible.

What matters more than thinking one has a "right answer", though, is the deeply captivating story that provokes our interpretations and the amount of fun we have getting there. Verhoeven and the scriptwriting team, which included Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, the writing team behind the Alien films (beginning with Alien, 1979), never let us go very long without another plot twist, most of which force a reinterpretation of the material that went before. The twists occur about once per every ten minutes, if not more frequently.

The film is notable for its special effects by Rob Bottin, which were far ahead of their time, and its fantastic production and art design, which manage to make us feel both that we're experiencing a vicarious trip to a "future grunge" Mars and an almost "Doctor Who" (1963)-ish absurdly artificial reality, complete with supersaturated red skies, ala Frank R. Paul's illustrated covers for the Amazing Stories fiction magazine.

Some locations in Mexico were used for the film, including some subway shots on Mars, and actual commercial sign age was incorporated into the film. There's a lot of fun to be had noticing all of the cultural differences and similarities that the future era of the film will bring. Verhoeven delights in subtle glimpses of various symbols and accoutrement's. His view of the future is one full of corruption, commercialism and decadence. He doesn't have much confidence in a "bright new world" as humans spread out to new territory.

Verhoeven is basically extending the way things are now to the future; it's as if he sees our state as indicative of human nature, so that as long as we're humans, people are going to be taking advantage of one another, trying to control one another, engaging in behavior that's a conflict between desires and societal mores, but also helping out each other when the going gets tough. In these respects, Total Recall has culture-satirical similarities to later films such as Starship Troopers (1997), which isn't surprising given that Verhoeven directed both films. It's notable that Total Recall's future is not quite as bleak as Starship Trooper's.

But the film is hardly less violent. Verhoeven's initial cut was given an X by the MPAA for violence. A number of scenes had to have small edits, most of which have thankfully been restored on at least one special edition DVD. The violence here is a lot more small scale and personal than Starship Troopers. In terms of the visceral, Total Recall often rides a gray area somewhere between action and horror. While the action isn't as explosive as many Schwarzenegger films, the suspense never resolves until the end. This is an amazing thrill ride of a film.


262 of 296 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 440 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed