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Total Recall (1990)

They stole his mind. Now he wants it back.

Directed by:

Paul Verhoeven

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 113 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United States

Mild-mannered construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a man obsessed with Mars. He dreams about it, wants to move there, loves the chocolate bar – you get the picture. Unfortunately, when he tries to talk his wife Lori (Sharon Stone) into going there, she gives him: “What about Saturn? Don’t you want to see Saturn?” Women, eh? They just don’t understand.

This gaudy futuristic action-fest is generally remembered for its considerable level of violence and stand-out special effects (it took the special achievement award for visual effects at the ’91 Oscars). What tends to be overlooked, however, is that it also has an intriguing storyline which has us never quite sure of whether we’re watching reality or a bizarre dream world.

Quaid, you see, finds his peaceful life in tatters after he visits “Rekall” (sic), a company offering to implant the memories of fake holiday experiences into its customers’ minds as a cheap alternative to going on a genuine vacation. He takes the full package, and has his noggin filled with the recollections of a Mars-based secret agent who batters the baddies, saves the planet, and gets the girl (an under-whelming Rachel Ticotin). The trouble is, when he tries to get back to his normal life, he finds it isn’t quite as normal as it used to be. Let’s hope he’s kept his receipt.

Based on the Philip K. Dick novel ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’ (other movies based on his writings include ‘Blade Runner’, Minority Report and, most recently, Paycheck), this is a crash ’em smash ’em extravaganza that possesses everything you’d expect from an Arnie film (including some of his most memorable one-liners).

It’s not quite up to the standard of Predator or the Terminator flicks, and it has to be said that the effects, for all the kudos they picked up at the time, haven’t aged at all well. But what ‘Total Recall’ has going for it is that it’s fast-paced, original, extremely entertaining, and should even manage to get you thinking – “If I’m not me, who da Hell am I?” Exactly, Arnold.

It's Got: A quickie divorce.

It Needs: Someone to turn on the oxygen.

DVD Extras Two trailers and a ‘Making Of’ featurette. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10

Summary

Classic Arnie – dated, but still enjoyable.

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