Total Recall

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Many of us unfortunately go through our lives wondering if we were meant for something more. Our careers bring no satisfaction, our routines are stagnant, and happiness is fading. We yearn for more but can't seem to shake it. So we find ways to escape. We turn to drugs or hobbies, or we take vacations.

Imagine taking a vacation from your life to live another, something that you feel will bring you adventure. What happens when that escape takes you to unexpected places where you cannot trust anyone, especially yourself? How do you know what is real unless to seek...


Total Recall (1990)

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Written by: (Screenplay) - Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Gary Goldman; (Story) - Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Jon Povill; Based on "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick

Music by: Jerry Goldsmith

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox

Watch on: Netflix

Review: Alpha


Douglas Quaid is a normal, every day man who has a beautiful wife but a boring job working construction. He longs for something more meaningful in his life, which results in him having dreams of Mars. Mars is settled by humans and is in the midst of a growing conflict between the Martian government run by a ruthless man named Vilos Cohaagan and a group of mutated human rebels lead by a mysterious figure called Kuato.

Realizing that he will not be able to take an actual trip to mars, Quaid visits a place called Total Recall. This place does memory implants that make a person believe they actually have attended a place when in reality they have not. However, Recall does more - they offer packages where a person can "take a vacation from themselves." Enticed by this offer, Quaid selects a package where he will be a secret agent and creates a woman that he will have implanted as part of the package.

All Hell breaks loose when during the implantation of the memories, Quaid freaks out screaming that his cover had been blown. The technician in charge states that Quaid actually had a memory cap and actually has been to Mars. Panicked, the salesman at Recall has a now unconscious Quaid dumped into a cab, his money refunded, and that if anyone comes by, no one has ever heard of Quaid.

"The door opened. You got in."

Quaid heads home to find that his boss is actually a spy, who tries to kill him. After killing his boss and crew, he returns home to his wife. After explaining the story, Quaid finds out that his wife, Lori, is also a spy sent to keep an eye on Quaid. He manages to escape his home where he is chased by Lori's husband and fellow spy, Richter. Quaid, with some help from an unidentified man, manages to escape and makes his way to Mars.

While on mars, Quaid catches a cab from a driver named Benny, who takes him to a brothel called The Last Resort. Here, mutants and non-mutants mix, including the most lusted after mutant in cinematic history, Mary. Here, Quaid meets Melina, who calls him Hauser. After a heated argument, Melina and Quaid/Hauser go to see Kuato who, through the use of his psychic powers, shows Quaid the truth of not only who he is but what is really happening on Mars. Before they can go further, Cohaagan send in military units led by Richter. The capture Quaid and Melina but shoot and kill Kuato.

Cohaagan, now with Quaid and Melina in custody, seals off the mutant district and turns off the air circulators, beginning the suffocation process. He then tells Quaid that they will remove his memory cap, allowing Hauser to return. As a bonus, they will alter Melina to make her more "docile." However, after Cohaagan and Richter leave, Quaid and Melina escape.

Following Kuato's instructions, Quaid and Melina go deep into the Martian mines where a giant machine built by an alien species exists. Quaid manages to Kill Ricter before confronting Cohaagan. They fight, resulting in an explosion that opens a part of the mine wall, causing the vacuum of the Martian atmosphere to pull Cohagaan out. Before Quaid and Melina are also pulled out, Quaid manages to activate the alien machine. This machine crushes and melts the Martian ice in the mines, creating an atmosphere like Earth's.

As they stand on a cliff, Quaid and Melina, who survived decompression in a nick of time, admire a new Mars with blue skies. In that moment, Quaid remembers that he went to Total recall for this very thing. He asks Melina if all of this is a dream. She responds in the best way possible.

"You better kiss me quick before you wake up."


For the Fall 2020 semester, I took a literature class called "Studies in Science Fiction," where we read a lot of exciting science fiction novels. We read Philip K. Dick's famous novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book that was made into Blade Runner. Needless to say, I really enjoyed that novel. Enjoying Total Recall, based on a Philip K. Dick short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," wasn't going to be a stretch for me at all.

I must have watched this movie 100 times when it came out. However, how does it hold up 30+ years later? In the early 1990s, Sharon Stone was the kind of actress who made a young man reach for the lotion. Arnold, well, he was in peak form with all his one-liners, including one of my all-time favorites, "See you at the party, Richter!"

Some of the effects are clearly outdated when it comes to realism. The disguises, the tracker's removal from Quaid's nose, are clearly dated to the time before CGI. Instead of it being a detriment to the movie, it adds a level of charm to Total Recall. This was a time in American history where we dreamed of expanding to other planets. Seeing technological leaps while seeing said technology consistent with the 1980s and early 90s makes one wax nostalgic. America was in a better place than it is today with the technological advances that have caused strife in exasperating ways.

Maybe we all need our own Total Recall back to a happier place.

Warp 9 on the SciFi drive!


Next Review: Annihilation

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