Back in the late 1980's / early 90's Carolco came onto the scene with heavy investor interest and a stunning stable of good scripts (JACOB'S LADDER), and when the scripts weren't all that good, they had an impressive cast of actors and SFX people to carry it through. Too bad the studio was so poorly managed. Now some of their finest films have been bought out by the likes of teeny tiny up and comers like Artisan Entertainment who, just recently, have made their voices heard.
TOTAL RECALL, for example, caught a lot of flak from Astronomy / Physics scientists and aficionados who wrung their mitts and decried the bad science of the flick. You will often find this same bunch deeply enamored with movies like THE HULK, TOXIC AVENGER, THEM, PLANET OF THE APES, STAR TREK, (Sound in Space? Banking Turns? Creatures that can dodge lasers? Visible lasers? Luck Sucking Eggs?!?) and any other movie where the science is just as bad, but is not related to their field of interest. Bad science is relative I suppose.
At any rate, TOTAL RECALL is a wild ride that is incredibly fun. A large part of this is due to Rob
Bottin (PIRANHA, THE HOWLING, THE FOG, THE THING, ROBOCOP, SE7EN)
The movie also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger who was the number one box office draw at that time for starring in such hot hits as CONAN THE BARBARIAN, THE TERMINATOR, TERMINATOR 2, and PREDATOR. These movies were giving summer audiences SF, Horror, Action, and Adventure all in one flick. With the exception of the Indiana Jones movies, this style of "all in one movie" was a rarity then and remains so today.
In TOTAL RECALL, Arnold plays a man named Douglas Quaid, a man haunted by nightmares of Mars. He is a simple man who wants to be somebody more than just a rock breaking construction worker. He longs for adventure, and believes he can find it on Mars.
His wife Lori (Sharon Stone: DEADLY BLESSING, BASIC INSTINCT, SCISSORS) is none too keen on the idea of going to a planet with little atmosphere that is largely a mining colony.
Finding himself trapped in a rut, Quaid considers Rekall. Rekall is a company that implants false memories into your brain. Now, in as little as an hour, you can have the memory of a vacation at less than half the cost with none of the headaches. Rekall gives you the dream vacation where everything goes perfect and nothing goes wrong. Quaid decides to buy the implant and Merry Mishaps occur.
Soon Quaid finds himself in a world where all the people he knew, loved, and trusted are not what they seemed. His whole life is turned upside down and people are out to imprison him or kill him. He soon finds himself on Mars during a fierce civil war filled with all manner of intrigue and Quaid is being hunted by both sides.
Ronny Cox (DELIVERANCE, THE CAR, ROBOCOP, SCISSORS, DEEP BLUE SEA) plays Vilos Cohaagen, a real Ming-The-Merciless character who rules Mars with an Iron Fist. On the rebel side is Kuato (Marshall Bell: MANHUNTER, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET II: Freddy's Revenge, INNOCENT BLOOD, THE PUPPET MASTERS, NATURAL BORN KILLERS) a mysterious figure hidden in secrecy.
In the center of the conflict lies a secret 500,000 years old. A massive machine built by the long extinct race of Martians. The question of course is: Is it real or Rekall? Though this is a knock-down-drag-out action movie, it also raises some canny questions concerning both reality and self-identity. Questions that were raised again the same year in the bizarre JACOB'S LADDER and more recently in DARK CITY, THE MATRIX, THE SIXTH SENSE and STIR OF ECHOES.
Too bad this movie earns a
!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT!!!:
There are a dozen things I could quibble about here but the one item that's just flat out wrong (and that's kind of a spoiler so proceed with caution) is how unbelievably fast a breathable atmosphere is established on Mars.
Providing a whole planet with a thick atmosphere is a process that should take decades at least, centuries more likely, but it happens literally within seconds. If that much gas was released that fast (pause for fart joke) it would be the equivalent of the shock wave from a tremendous explosion and would scour Mars clean down to the bedrock.
TOTAL RECALL was based on the Philip K. Dick short story WE CAN REMEMBER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE and was adapted for the screen by the writing team of Ron Shussett and Dan O'Bannon (ALIEN, SCREAMERS, BLEEDERS). Additional writing credits also go to Jon Povill and Gary Goldman (BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA).
Among the fun actors you can expect in this movie is the heavy duty cult favorite Michael Ironside (SCANNERS, VISITING HOURS, THE KILLING MACHINE, THE OMEGA CODE) as the quick witted and merciless hunter Revok, and Rachel Ticotin (NATURAL BORN KILLERS) as the femme fatale, Melina.
While Philip K. Dick's story was thought provoking (as all his stories are), TOTAL RECALL ignores thought in lieu of adrenaline rush, which it gives you in gallons. I give TOTAL RECALL 3 Shriek Girls.
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