REVIEW: Total Recall (1990)

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1990, Carolco Pictures

Director:
Paul Verhoeven
Producers:
Buzz Feitshans
Ronald Shusett
Writers:
Philip K. Dick (short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”)
Jon Povill (story)
Dan O’Bannon (story and screenplay)
Ronald Shusett (story and screenplay)
Gary Goldman (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Jost Vacano
Editing:
Carlos Puente
Frank J. Urioste

Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Douglas Quaid/Karl Hauser)
Rachel Ticotin (Melina)
Sharon Stone (Lori)
Ronny Cox (Vilos Cohaagen)
Michael Ironside (Richter)
Marshall Bell (George/Kuato)
Mel Johnson Jr. (Benny)
Michael Champion (Helm)
Roy Brocksmith (Dg. Edgemar)

Arnold Schwarzenegger learns that his world is not what it seems in this sci-fi classic film from Dutch director Paul Verhoeven.

It’s the year 2084. Architect Douglas Quaid has had nightmares about life on Mars with a mysterious brunette woman. Upon awakening, Quaid’s wife Lori finds herself concerned about the mysterious woman in his nightmares but he successfully blows her off. Meanwhile, he has heard about Mars, where there is now life under Mayor Vilas Cohaagen, who has the population intact in a shielded area from the atmosphere. Yet news of a revolution led by Kuato has been heard in an attempt to overthrow Cohaagen.

Quaid goes to an experiment known as Recall, where he can experience a vacation like no other and live out a fantasy. He chooses the secret agent fantasy, but before the injected memory can be placed in Quaid, the architect undergoes a change. Shocked to learn that nothing around him is actually what is seen, Quaid learns the hard truth. He was once an agent for Cohaagen named Karl Hauser, whose memory was erased. Going to Mars, Quaid finds Melina, who is the mysterious woman in his dreams. Together, they learn the truth about Kuato’s reasoning for revolution and why Cohaagen wants nothing more than total control. Now, Quaid and Melina must help Kuato bring peace to Mars but to do so, they must stop Cohaagen and his goons.

Inspired by a Philip K. Dick short story, this film is quite interesting not only because of its cast, but its sci-fi inspired storyline as well as the very engaging special effects make this a very good Ah-nuld film.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is engaging as architect Douglas Quaid, who soon learns his repressed memories come back as both a positive and negative. The positive involved the fact he finds himself all of a sudden having the skills to defend himself while he finds himself hunted down by the likes of Michael Ironside as Cohaagen’s right hand man Richter. In a nice little twist to the story that happens pretty quickly, Sharon Stone’s Lori is revealed herself to be not only Quaid’s faux wife, but she is Richter’s real wife and holds her own when needed to fight.

Ronny Cox, who appeared in Verhoeven’s hit 1987 film RoboCop, once again shines as a lead villain who is all talk until the finale in the form of Cohaagen. When one says all talk, he is the powerful man who hires muscle and serves himself as a last resort to do the action himself in the finale. Schwarzenegger gets ample support in Rachel Ticotin, who plays the mysterious brunette in Arnie’s dreams who turns out to have history with the repressed version of his Quaid.

Another highlight of the film aside from the action and story is Rob Bottin’s special effects. Sometimes they give off a “how is that humanly impossible”, such as the scene where we see Arnie (in a video) telling himself how to remove the bug implanted in his skull. The atmosphere scenes are quite gross-out as in the film’s opening scene, Quaid’s dream, shows the viewer the result of being in Mars’ atmosphere where there is no breathable air. It is likely to give you chills while in a fun scene, we seen Quaid in disguise as a completely different person upon arrival in Mars reveals his true self in such a crazy scene but with fun special effects.

The film was remade in 2012 with Colin Farrell in the Ah-nuld role and was not as well received as this original.

Total Recall is a wild sci-fi action ride with Arnold Schwarzenegger leading the way with some fun yet at-times gross out special effects that enhance the film. Definitely one to check out!

WFG RATING: A

DVD

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