Total Recall (1990 USA)

total_recallPaul Verhoeven’s paranoid fantasy `Total Recall’ is a dazzling futuristic sci-fi. The short story by Philip K. Dick is adapted brilliantly, and in many ways is similar to`Blade Runner’. The main difference is that this is more of an adrenalin – pumping audience pleaser, and that’s a good thing. But there are many things that separate this from your average gung-ho action movie. Its bold and brash and I like it for all the wrong reasons, but who cares?

Verhoeven’s directing styles are marvellous and he creates a familiar, but gleaming vision of the near future. What’s better than the brawny action is the Twilight Zone-ish atmosphere that is created. The film hits a peak when it reaches the half way mark and we don’t know if this is reality or an artificially induced dream. Then again the movie is over-violent. This sometimes tarnishes the sparkling shine, but even the blood has that polished look to it and the stylish comic strip look certainly adds to the shimmering effect. The general acting standard is average if unremarkable. Arnold Schwarzanegger isn’t the greatest actor ever (obviously), but he does the required job despite his many limitations in communicating.

totall recallVerhoeven regular, Ronny Cox is moderately good in his part as the standard villain, ditto Michael Ironside. Sharon Stone doesn’t get enough screen-time, but she is still very effective as the vivacious wife. The same can’t be said for Rachel Titocin, who is very shallow as the typical significant other. It’s quite obvious that the standard of visual effects have drastically improved in the past 26 years, but the special effects in `Total Recall’ are still spectacular. It’s evident that the old technique of puppetry work is used, but the artists create the vast metropolis that was seen in recent blockbuster `Minority Report’, but the settings are brighter, flashier and have an added dose of glitz.

It’s not very often that I can really say this, but this is a sci-fi movie with a brilliant script. There are enough added philosophical twists to dizzy the mind and alter everything that has gone before. In typical Philip K. Dick fashion, the film ends on a question mark. Was he really on Mars or was it part of the dream? The answer is for you to decide. The movie starts out brilliantly and continues up this slant until it reaches a peak at the half way mark (when he meets the man from Recall). After that it fizzles into action formula but retrieves its philosophical characteristics when we learn the truth about the movie’s protagonist. One of the coolest, most vibrant and most violent science fiction movies of that era, `Total Recall’ is a fantastic demonstration that action films can have brains. There is an equal measure of style and substance, so I highly recommend this futuristic noir.

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Comments

  1. I agree, this was definitely one of the coolest sci-fi movies of the era, still is.
    The adaptation sucked, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll have to give it a watch then. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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