Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker on Earth who has recurring dreams about a journey to Mars. Hoping to understand his dream, he purchases a ‘virtual holiday’ from Rekall, a company that trades in the provision of implanted memories. When something goes awry during the procedure, Quaid discovers the truth about his own past working as a secret agent, setting him on a path to Mars in a journey that will collapse the distinctions between memory, fiction, dream, and reality.
Beginning with RoboCop (1987) and ending with Starship Troopers (1997), Total Recall is seen by some as the middle segment of a trio of sci-fi allegories by Paul Verhoeven, with each one addressing different aspects of fascism. Indeed, these three films potently explore questions of imperial ambition, surveillance states, colonial legacies, aggressive militancy, and propaganda.
But being an unashamed ‘Schwarzenegger movie’, Total Recall is also delightfully fun, full of memorable quips, explosions aplenty, and glorious action sequences. High concept intelligence and low-brow thrills collide in a gratifyingly delirious conflation of the profound and silly that will leave you, appropriately, fighting to catch your breath.
A bombastic and inter-planetary tale of totalitarian dystopia that has aged incredibly well, Total Recall still wows on the big screen, and was adapted from Philip K. Dick’s 1966 short story ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’, with a screenplay co-written by cult legend Dan O’Bannon (Alien, The Return of the Living Dead).
This film is screening at Tyneside Cinema as FLESH + BLOOD: THE CINEMA OF PAUL VERHOEVEN which you can learn more about here!