[Happy 25th Birthday!] Total Recall (1990)

 

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Director: Paul Verhoeven

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox

Screenplay: Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Gary Goldman

113 mins. Rated R.

  • Academy Award Winner: Special Achievement Award for visual effects
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing

 

Each time that I watch 1990’s Total Recall, I find that I enjoy it just a little more. Don’t get me wrong, our relationship didn’t start out that great. Boys hears of Movie. Boy sees Movie. Boy is confused, bewildered, and a little frustrated. Boy is convinced to watch Movie again. Boy remembers enjoying himself, but can’t place why. It’s the same story you’ve heard a thousand times by now.

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In Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator, Maggie) is Douglas Quaid, a normal everyday construction worker with a lovely wife (Sharon Stone, Casino, Fading Gigolo) who dreams of seeing Mars. Oh yeah, this is the future. Quaid decides to take a cheaper route to actually going to Mars and instead chooses to go to Rekall, a company that will implant memories of a fantastical vacation anyone would dream to be a part of. When the Rekall implantation goes awry, Quaid is pursued by the malicious Richter (Michael Ironside, The Machinist, Extraterrestrial) while he starts to wonder if he has a secret past that even he wasn’t aware of, or is it all part of the Rekall?

I happened to truly love watching this movie again this afternoon in honor of its twenty-fifth anniversary. I even got my girlfriend, someone who I’ve been goading towards this film for a long time, to watch it with me. She kept telling me she would hate it, but she admits she was wrong. The effects and the cinematography still look incredible, with the exception of a few shots that have aged (I’m speaking specifically about the space travel to Mars sequence).

Arnold’s portrayal of Douglas Quaid is strangely camptastic, and I enjoyed it even though I admit he wasn’t convincing. The real winner for acting belongs to each of the supporting roles, Rachel Ticotin (Man of Fire, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2) and especially Ironside and Ronny Cox (RoboCop, Beyond the Reach).

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Total Recall is an absolutely fun ride which posits some truly trippy questions. Director Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers, Black Book) has proven time and time again he can handle just about any film (Showgirls not included) and his take on the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” is very interesting. What’s even better, it looks great still twenty-five later, so check it out…for the first time or the next time.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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