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Total Recall (1990)

Duration1h 53
RatingsUK: 18, USA: R, Denmark: 15 
Source of storyA Phillip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale”.
DirectorPaul Verhoeven
Writers/ScriptRonald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Gary Oldman
StarringArnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Dean Norris, Rachel Ticotin, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.5/10 by 322,726 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 82% by 73 reviewers. Review2view: 8.5/10 

Elevator Pitch: Douglas Quaid is a construction worker married to a hot wife, who has dreams about being on Mars. As a result he goes to Rekall, who are an organisation offering the installation of fake memories. He chooses to be a secret agent on mars, but when the process is started Quaid is found to have had fake memories installed already, so he is sent home. But he is given a suitcase containing information which leads him to believe he is really a secret agent working against the virtual dictatorship on Mars. Hence he secretly goes to Mars and joins a rebel group. But at times efforts are made to convince him he is experiencing a delusional dream, which he does not believe. Meanwhile the boss on Mars is killing a group who may contain rebels by cutting their air off. Can Quaid save them, and are his experiences real anyway? 

Content:  No actual sex or nudity, unless we count the prostitute with three breasts. Quaid cuddles up a bit to his sexy wife, Lori, but later when he is exposed as a secret agent has to fight her. Both on earth and on Mars there is high security and Quaid is exposed as a terrorist when he is passing through an X-ray machine. He visits the underbelly of Martian society, populated by sex workers and as it turns out his girlfriend, Melina, who he did not remember.  Melina and Lori fight. A doctor tried to convince Quaid he is delusional. There is a lot of dashing about as Quaid is chased by the Martian boss’s thugs.

A View: This film lurked in development hell for years, before Arnie took an interest in it and brought it to fruition. He was already a big star by 1990. It was very expensive but made money and we are left in doubt as to whether Quaid’s experiences are real or actually the result of his visit to Rekall, where, after all, he chose to be a secret agent. So despite its age, well worth a watch. Still better than the 2013 remake.

Three other Paul Verhoeven films reviewed on this site: Robocop, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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