Construction worker Douglas Quaid discovers a memory chip in his brain during a virtual-reality trip. He also finds that his past has been invented to conceal a plot of planetary domination. Soon, he's off to Mars to find out who he is and who planted the chip.
Neither Arnold Schwarzenegger nor Paul Verhoeven have stretched their talents here.
There may be people who overlook the Arnold Schwarzenegger performance in Total Recall who think he isn t really acting. But the performance is one of the reasons the movie works so well.
Recall is full of the musclebound action that [Schwarzenegger s] fans presumably enjoy. It also means that this Mars-bound movie is violent, nasty and expensive (it cost Tri-Star well over $60 million).
A gratuitous explosion of vainglory and guts, the movie is all firecrackers and giblets and broken glass. The overall effect is like wading through hospital waste.
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.
The future doesn t come any better.
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.
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.
Total Recall is too much -- but it s too much of a good thing.
It s not a masterpiece, but it is a fast-moving thriller, one worth revisiting (and, evidently, remaking).