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Total Recall (1990)

tomatometer

84

Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 51
Fresh: 43 | Rotten: 8

Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.

80

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 2

Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.

audience

78

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 241,397

My Rating

Movie Info

In Paul Verhoeven's wild sci-fi action movie Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a 21st-century construction worker who discovers that his entire memory of the past derives from a memory chip implanted in his brain. Schwarzenegger learns that he's actually a secret agent who had become a threat to the government, so those in power planted the chip and invented a domestic lifestyle for him. Once he has realized his true identity, he travels to Mars to piece together the rest of his

Aug 29, 2000

$18.1k

Rialto Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (51) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (8) | DVD (37)

It's not a masterpiece, but it is a fast-moving thriller, one worth revisiting (and, evidently, remaking).

August 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Total Recall is too much -- but it's too much of a good thing.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The fierce and unrelenting pace, accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek strain of humor in the roughhouse screenplay, keeps the film moving like a juggernaut.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A worthy entry in the dystopian cycle launched by Blade Runner, this seems less derivative than most of its predecessors yet equally accomplished in its straight-ahead storytelling, with plenty of provocative satiric undertones and scenic details.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The future doesn't come any better.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Melding the ever-more-workable Schwarzenegger mystique with a better-than-average science-fiction premise, the director Paul Verhoeven has come up with a vigorous, superviolent interplanetary thriller that packs in wallops with metronomic regularity.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A wickedly violent, action-packed old school piece of warped, twist-filled sci-fi and Schwarzenegger cheese. You'll wish you had three hands to hold this one.

August 6, 2012 Full Review Source: IGN DVD
IGN DVD

Minor Verhoeven, well-above-average Schwarzenegger, and as well-made as any action movie from around the turn of the 1990s you could name.

August 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Total Recall's caricaturing of Schwarzenegger, its flip ribbing at his stocks of action-hero cache, signal the deep, almost atomic level at which its satire functions.

August 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

When the leader of the rebels turns out to be Baby Herman from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it's clear that the satirical bull's-eyes Verhoeven nailed in RoboCop have here been turned into a more benign state of rib-nudging.

August 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Verhoeven's version of Philip Dick's story is vigorous, exciting, and inventive sci-fi thriller, combining pulp savviness, ultra-graphic violence, and Oscar-winning special effects.

July 30, 2012 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

It's a blockbuster from another era, when a big idea, rather than a pair of 3D goggles, gave the film its extra dimension.

July 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK] | Comments (2)
Observer [UK]

It's still a guilty pleasure - though the guilt quotient is a bit higher - and that's down to the still-extraordinary presence of the massively gym-built Arnold...

July 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

Still a ripsnorting yarn with lashings of sex and violence that hasn't aged a day.

July 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

An absolutely superb sci-fi film and a true modern cornerstone of the genre not seen since the deeper though less entertaining Blade Runner nearly ten years previous.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Dark Horizons
Dark Horizons

Not only one of the best films of 1990, it's one of Arnold's finest cinematic accomplishments -- a fireball of a film...still disembowels like a champion.

May 31, 2010 Full Review Source: BrianOrndorf.com
BrianOrndorf.com

Total Recall is fine entertainment, complete with breathtaking action sequences and special effects that impress even in these computer-generated times.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Ugly, stupid, loud, offensive, and pointlessly violent.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Comments (18)
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Say what you will about Verhoeven's penchant for extravagant theatrics, when he's not yanking the arms off people or putting bullets in their forehead, he tells a good story.

February 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis | Comments (2)
Movie Metropolis

...people are allowed to change their minds

July 10, 2005 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Thought-provoking, flashy, and FULL of action!

April 17, 2005
eFilmCritic.com

Audience Reviews for Total Recall

Loosely inspired by one of Philip K. Dick's stories, this is a superb sci-fi action thriller set in a dystopic 2084 about a construction worker named Quaid who decides to go on a 'vacation' by having memories of a secret agent fantasy implanted into his brain, only for things to go horribly awry...or maybe not.

Despite a few silly and cheesy moments, this is a wonderful, if violent action thriller that is both entertaining, and rather thought provoking. It really toys with that oft-used concept of blurring the line between what's real and what isn't, and this is one of the few films that actually does it quite well, with enough evidence to support multiple theories, with the true ending of the film dependent upon each viewer's own opinion.

Like many of Verhoeven's American films, it's got a lot of violence, but provides a lot of thought provoking ideas and material, often satirical, as well. It's all presented with some groundbreaking special effects (almost all of them done practically or in camera as opposed to CGI), a terrific score by Jerry Goldsmith, and some decent, if sometimes silly, but still fun performances. And let's not forget about the most memorable thing this film has to offer: a three-breasted mutant prostitute!

Definitely give this one a watch. It's not flawless, but it is remarkably strong, and easily one of both Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger's best films.
April 15, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

While not the classic that some have coined it, Total Recall is an entertaining and thought-provoking science fiction film with Paul Verhoeven's signature gory style adding an element of surprise and distinction among the genre. The story twists and turns its way around until finally leaving you with an ambiguous ending (similar to Inception's ending) that makes for a good conversation with someone when done viewing. The added element of the gory and creepy visuals that are a product of their time just add to the fun. These effects would not have been the same if CGI was used and would not have been as creepy, like seeing people's eyes pop out of their heads on Mars. The acting is enjoyable and humorous at times, with the cheekiness usually prevalent in Arnold's older films. A great story, solid action, and fantastic visuals add up to a film that any science fiction film can appreciate on different levels, whether it be the thought-provoking premise, or the masterful effects that won an Academy Award.
January 23, 2013
jlewis07

Super Reviewer

An old fashioned B-movie concerning a normal construction worker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who finds out that he is in fact a secret agent for the government who has had a fake memory chip implanted in his head thinking he is living an alternate reality. Smart film boasts a wide range of spectacular visual effects that keep it interesting throughout. It does go a little overboard on the violence at times, but director Paul Verhoeven keeps this thing clicking along at a nice pace and has enough tricks up his sleeve both with his plot and visuals that it makes it a worthwhile watch in the end. Schwarzenegger's performance isn't the stuff of legends, it is strictly workmanlike, but hey, it gets the job done.
October 11, 2012
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

A strange action film, quite violent.
September 30, 2012
Deano78

Super Reviewer

    1. Doug Quaid: Where am I?
    2. Johnnycab: You're in a Johnnycab.
    3. Doug Quaid: How did I get in here?
    4. Johnnycab: I'm sorry. Would you please rephrase the question?
    5. Doug Quaid: How did I get in this taxi?
    6. Johnnycab: The door opened, you got in. Hell of a day, isn't it?
    – Submitted by Christopher S (6 months ago)
    1. Doug Quaid: When you hear the crunch you're there.
    – Submitted by Baurushan J (16 months ago)
    1. Doug Quaid: You, you're not you. You're me.
    2. Doug Quaid: No shit!
    – Submitted by Baurushan J (16 months ago)
    1. Doug Quaid: [Quaid points a gun at Dr. Edgemar's head] All right, let's say you're telling the truth and this is all a dream. I could pull this trigger and it won't matter!
    – Submitted by Nick S (16 months ago)
    1. Fat Lady: Two weeks...
    – Submitted by Josh D (16 months ago)
    1. Vilas Cohaagen: In 30 seconds you'll be dead, and I'll blow this place up and be home in time for Corn Flakes!
    – Submitted by Alexander G (16 months ago)
View all quotes (43)

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Foreign Titles

  • Total Recall (1990) (DE)
  • Total Recall (UK)
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