Total Recall

1990

Total Recall

Critics Consensus

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

82%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 68

78%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 244,408
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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 identity, as well as to find the man responsible for his implanted memory. Verhoeven has created a fast, furious action film with Total Recall, filled with impressive stunts and (literally) eye-popping visuals. Though the film bears only a passing resemblance to the Philip K. Dick short story it was based on ("We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"), the movie is an entertaining, if very violent, ride. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Total Recall

All Critics (68) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (56) | Rotten (12)

  • Schwarzenegger is never going to make the De Niros and Hoffmans of this world lose a night's sleep, but he has acquired a new confidence as an actor under Verhoeven's guidance.

    Jul 27, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Total Recall is slick, sly and subversive, and if some of the special effects have aged somewhat, that only adds to the charm.

    Jul 27, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • As Quaid, Schwarzenegger continues to stretch beyond his reach as an actor, relying on physical prowess to keep him in character.

    Jul 27, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • If the movie sometimes seems overwhelmed by its budget and its legendary third-act problems, it's still entertainingly raw and brutal, full of whiplash pace and juicy exaggeration.

    Jul 27, 2016 | Full Review…
  • If Total Recall isn't as much fun as I'd hoped, it's not as dreary as I'd feared. I wouldn't call it totally awesome, but it's far from being a total loss.

    Jul 27, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The movie is a cartoon, though a mammothly enjoyable one.

    Jul 27, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Total Recall

  • May 01, 2017
    Much like a lot of Arnold Schwarzenegger's films, Total Recall is action packed, boasts great special effects, and one-liners. But this time, it's handled with intelligent ideas and thought provoking themes. Luckily, most of the time everything comes together nicely. Total Recall is based off a Phillip K. Dick short story, which is why it's no surprise this film tries to tackle a whole lot of interesting science fiction proposals. Even when the films themselves aren't always the best, I've always found Dick's ideas to be fascinating. Total Recall is about a man caught up in a mysterious sequence of events that may just alter his life on earth for good, or should I say his life on Mars. It takes place in 2084 where it's possible to take a "virtual vacation" to wherever you want. Naturally, a lot of people choose other planets, including the habitable planet of Mars. Douglas Quaid, played by Schwarzenegger, decided to take on the mission to gain his life back. However, it becomes increasingly clear that his life that he thought he had, is no longer in reach. Being that it's an action film, Quaid is pretty much on the run the rest of the movie, and chaos inevitably ensues. Schwarzenegger is great at all the action, and handles enough of the heavy and heady material to get by. I think where this film doesn't always succeed is when it tries to bite off more than it can chew. Whether it be because of the directing, writing, or acting, Total Recall becomes swallowed in twists and turns that don't always work in the context of the film they set up. I know there are endless amounts of theories about whether Quaid is dreaming or not. And while it's an interesting question that the film proposes, this isn't necessarily what I'm referring to. The third act is about twist after twist that feels more desperate than it does natural. Take Inception for example, that film deals with similar themes, but it does so by revealing things one by one, instead of depending on how shocked the audience can get. There's a big difference between twists and reveals. Overall, Total Recall is definitely one of the better sci-fi's that attempts to balance a light-hearted tone with heavy themes. It just sometimes gets caught up in being too bold instead of staying bright. +Phillip K. Dick's ideas +Fun & thought provoking -But sometimes those themes collapse on themselves. 7.6/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Dec 13, 2015
    "Total Recall" is an amazing and fun Action/Sci-Fi movie of 1990. "Total Recall" has an amazing plot to it which is a an named "Doug Quaid" portrayed by "Arnold Schwarzenegger", who visits a virtual reality travelling agency. After an error in the process "Quaid's" brain is messed up. Later he gets a message from someone telling him that he must go to mars. The plot to this movie is amazing, the people who "Quaid" meets. The acting in "Total Recall" is superb, yet again "Arnold Schwarzenegger" exceeds our expectations for our acting. "Sharon Stone" is another great actress. The music in this movie is great, "Jerry Goldsmith" did a great job composing music for this movie. The movie editors put his music in the right scenes and made this movie ever better. "Total Recall" could've easily become a mess of a movie with plot holes everywhere, but thanks to "Paul Verhoeven's" marvellous directing an easy error never happened. There is a lot of violence and blood in "Total Recall" and with big action movies like this one it is very easy to have action sequences and death scenes look horrible. This movie had amazing visuals and very believable scenes. Finally this movie was filmed very well, there are one or two scenes that could've been done better, but only one or two. "Total Recall" will remain a classic for years to come. If you are a person who likes Action/Sci-fi's then I highly recommend you watch "Total Recall" as it is an action-packed amazing film with superb acting. I give "Total Recall" a 9/10.
    Steve G Super Reviewer
  • Apr 17, 2015
    Intrinsically Verhoeven, Total Recall is a film from my youth that I probably shouldn't have been watching quite as early as I did, but that I still love to this day. All the practical effects, exquisite violence & nudity and provocative sci-fi themes you've come to expect from this sort of thing, but twists and turns that start just five minutes in and keep running all the way through to the end. Total Recall is a must-see.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2013
    Not the average Arnold action film it's got allot of story to tell and the first half was gripping but it got silly and very wierd, Some good shoot outs but a very strange film.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer

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