Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin, Ronny Cox, Marshall Bell, Mel Johnson Jr., Michael Champion, Roy Brocksmith, Ray Baker, Rosemary Dunsmore, David Knell, Alexia Robinson, Dean Norris, Mark Carlton
Written by: Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Gary Goldman, based on a screen story by Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Jon Povill, and on a short story by Philip K. Dick
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 113
Date: 06/01/1990
IMDB

Total Recall (1990)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Memory Pain

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, Total Recall is a lowbrow/highbrow hybrid, which is sometimes successful and sometimes not.

In the future, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) keeps dreaming about Mars, even though he has never been there. He also dreams about mysterious woman (Rachel Ticotin) he has never met, much to the concern of his wife (Sharon Stone). On a whim he visits a company that can implant the memories of a vacation, and chooses a "trip" to Mars. The process goes wrong, and perhaps unlocks something inside Quaid's brain. People begin chasing him, and he decides to travel to Mars to find out what's going on. He finds evidence of his previous identity, "Hauser," and some clues to what's really going on: it all ties into a plot to control the air supply on Mars. But how many layers does this mystery have, and how can Quaid tell what's real?

Taking a story by sci-fi cult legend Philip K. Dick, Verhoeven started out with some great ideas. The movie plays around with several, rather brilliant layers and themes of "reality" versus "illusion," including a fight scene in which the heroes make holograms of themselves to fool the bad guys. However, Verhoeven's sensibility usually combines hysterical violence with his clever commentaries. While this sometimes works on its own, here he was forced to adapt it to Arnold Schwarzenegger's larger-than-life, testosterone brand of action. The result is bizarre, asking audiences to laugh and cheer at the meanest and most appalling situations (though this, too, could be part of the film's concept). Likewise, the story often stops while waiting for Arnold to beat the tar out of the latest batch of bad guys. But overall, the movie's imaginative effects and ideas win the day.

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