in the right spread of films is what keeps the industry alive, providing
jobs for thousands of creative people and trades, engineers, writers and
business persons. This index focuses on films relating to kindred
subjects, movies with religious or mystical themes, involving compasses
or attempts at everlasting life, such as cloning.
Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven, with a screenplay by Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, and Gary Goldman. The film stars
Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. Based on the 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick, Total Recall tells the story of Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger), a construction worker who receives an implanted memory of a fantastical adventure on Mars. He subsequently finds his adventure occurring in reality as agents of a shadow organization try to prevent him from recovering memories of his past as a Martian secret agent aiming to stop the tyrannical regime of Martian dictator Vilos Cohaagen (Cox).
Shusett bought the rights to Dick's short story in 1974 and developed a script with O'Bannon. Although considered promising, the ambitious scope kept the project in development hell at multiple studios over sixteen years, seeing forty script drafts, seven different directors, and multiple actors cast as Quaid. Total Recall eventually entered the early stages of filming in 1987 under the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group shortly before its bankruptcy. Schwarzenegger, who had long held an interest in the project but had been dismissed as inappropriate for the lead role, convinced Carolco Pictures to purchase the rights and develop the film with him as the star. On an estimated $48–80 million budget (making it one of the most expensive films made in its time), filming took place on expansive sets at Estudios Churubusco in Mexico over six months. Cast and crew experienced numerous injuries and illnesses during filming.
Total Recall was anticipated to be one of the year's most successful films. On its release, the film earned approximately $261.4 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of the year. Its critical reception was mixed, with reviewers praising its themes of identity and questioning reality, but criticizing content perceived as vulgar and violent. The practical special effects were well received, earning the film an Academy Award, and the score by Jerry Goldsmith has been praised as one of his best works.
Since its release, Total Recall has been praised for its ambiguous ending positing whether Quaid's adventures are real or a fantasy, and it has also been analyzed for themes of authoritarianism and colonialism. Retrospective reviews have called it one of Schwarzenegger's best films and placed it among the best science fiction films ever made. Alongside comic books and video games, Total Recall has been adapted into the 1999 television series Total Recall 2070. An early attempt at a sequel, based on Dick's The Minority Report, became the 2002 standalone film Minority Report, and a 2012 remake, also titled Total Recall, failed to replicate the success of the original.
In 2084, Mars is a colonized world under the tyrannical regime of Vilos Cohaagen, who controls the mining of valuable turbinium ore. On Earth, construction worker Douglas Quaid experiences recurring dreams about Mars and a mysterious woman. Intrigued, he visits Rekall, a company that implants realistic false memories, and chooses one set on Mars (with a blue sky) where he is a Martian secret agent. However, before the implant is completed Quaid lashes out, already thinking he is a secret agent. Believing Cohaagen's "Agency" has suppressed Quaid's memories, the Rekall employees erase evidence of Quaid's visit and send him home.
En route, Quaid is attacked by men led by his colleague Harry because Quaid unknowingly revealed his past; Quaid's instincts take over and he kills his assailants. At home, he is assaulted by his wife Lori who claims she was assigned to monitor Quaid by the Agency and their marriage is a false memory implant. He flees but is pursued by armed men led by Richter, Cohaagen's operative and Lori's real husband. A man who claims to be Quaid's former acquaintance gifts him a suitcase containing supplies and a video recording in which Quaid identifies himself as Hauser, a Cohaagen ally who defected after falling in love. According to the recording, Cohaagen brainwashed Hauser to become Quaid and conceal his secrets before securing him on Earth. Hauser instructs Quaid to return to Mars and stop Cohaagen.
On Mars, Quaid evades Richter and, following a note from Hauser, travels to Venusville, a district populated by humans and those mutated by air pollution and radiation. He meets Melina, the woman from his dreams, who knows him as Hauser and believes he is still working for Cohaagen. In his hotel room, Quaid is confronted by Lori and Dr. Edgemar from Rekall, who explains that Quaid is still at Rekall on Earth, trapped in his fantasy memory. Quaid notices Edgemar is sweating and, believing he is real, kills him. Quaid is captured by Richter's men, but Melina rescues him and Quaid kills Lori. The pair escape with taxi driver Benny to Venusville.
The mutants lead them to a hidden rebel base, where Quaid meets their leader Kuato, a mutant growing out of the abdomen of his brother George. Kuato psychically reads Quaid's mind, learning that Cohaagen is hiding a 500,000-year-old alien reactor built into a mountain that, once activated, produces breathable air but could also destroy all turbinium, ending Cohaagen's monopoly over both resources. Benny shoots George, revealing himself to be in Cohaagen's employ, and Cohaagen's forces attack the base, killing the rebels. Kuato implores Quaid to start the reactor before Richter executes him. Cohaagen disables Venusville's air supply to slowly suffocate the remaining inhabitants.
Quaid and Melina are brought to Cohaagen, who explains that Hauser was his close friend who volunteered to become Quaid as an elaborate ruse to bypass the mutants' psychic abilities, infiltrate the rebellion, and destroy it. Quaid's Rekall visit had activated him earlier than planned and Cohaagen has been helping him to survive the oblivious Richter's pursuit. Cohaagen orders Hauser's memories to be restored in Quaid and Melina to be reprogrammed as his subservient lover, but they manage to escape to the mines below the reactor. Benny, Richter, and his men attack them, but the pair outwits and kills them all.
Cohaagen awaits them in the reactor control room, claiming that activating it will destroy the planet. He sets off an explosive but Quaid throws it down a tunnel, creating a breach to the Martian surface. The explosive decompression blows Cohaagen out to the surface where he suffocates and dies. Quaid activates the reactor before he and Melina are also blown out. The reactor melts the planet's ice core into gas that bursts to the surface, forming a breathable atmosphere and saving Quaid, Melina, and the rest of Mars's population. As everyone beholds the now-blue sky, Quaid momentarily wonders if everything was a dream, before he and Melina kiss.
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid / Carl Hauser: An Earth-based construction worker with a hidden past
Rachel Ticotin as Melina: A Martian freedom fighter
Sharon Stone as Lori: Quaid's wife and a secret agent
Ronny Cox as Vilos Cohaagen: The governor of the Martian colony
Michael Ironside as Richter: Cohaagen's ruthless enforcer
Marshall Bell as George / Kuato (voice): The mutant leader of the Martian resistance
Michael Champion as Helm: Richter's right-hand man
Mel Johnson Jr. as Benny: A Martian taxi driver
Roy Brocksmith as Dr. Edgemar: A Rekall employee
Rosemary Dunsmore as Dr. Renata Lull: A Rekall programmer
The Earth-based cast features Ray Baker as Rekall salesman Bob McClane, Robert Costanzo as Harry, and Alexia Robinson as Tiffany. Robert Picardo provides the voice and visual likeness of Johnnycab, an automated taxi driver.
The Martian cast includes Lycia Naff as Mary, a mutant three-breasted prostitute, Marc Alaimo as Everett, Dean Norris as Tony, Debbie Lee Carrington as Thumbelina, Sasha Rionda as Mutant Child, Mickey Jones as Burly Miner, and Priscilla Allen as "fat lady".
CRITICS AND BOX OFFICE
Fifty films were scheduled for release during the summer theater season of 1990 (May 18–September 3), six of which were predicted to dominate the box office: Another 48 Hrs., Back to the Future Part III, Days of Thunder, Die Hard 2, RoboCop 2, and Total Recall. Apart from Die Hard 2, the films were all scheduled for release by the end of June to ensure a long theatrical run during the peak time of the year, and other releases were scheduled to avoid opening against them. National polling in April that year showed audiences were most interested in Another 48 Hrs. and Die Hard 2. The year was predicted to surpass the record $5 billion box office of 1989, with more films than ever expected to surpass $100 million box offices. At the same time, the importance of domestic box office grosses was decreasing as studios increasingly earned profits from home media releases, television rights, and markets outside of the United States and Canada. These growing markets were, in turn, inflating film production costs as stars commanded higher salaries to compensate for their international appeal, with Total Recall, Die Hard 2, and Days of Thunder among the most expensive films being released. Average salaries for male leads had also increased to between $7–$11 million.
In the U.S. and Canada, Total Recall was released on June 1, 1990, in 2,060 theaters. It grossed $25.5 million—an average of $12,395 per theater—and finished as the number one film of the weekend, ahead of Back to the Future Part III ($10.3 million), which was in its second weekend of release, and Bird on a Wire ($6.3 million), in its third. This figure gave it the highest opening weekend gross of the year to date, narrowly beating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles's $25.4 million. This was also the highest opening for an R-rated film, and one of the ten highest-grossing three-day opening weekends ever. The film fell to number two in its second weekend, with an additional gross of $15 million (a decline of forty-one percent), behind the debut of Another 48 Hrs. ($19.5 million), and to the number three position in its third week with an additional gross of $10.2 million, behind Another 48 Hrs. ($10.7 million) and the debut of Dick Tracy ($22.5 million).
By mid-July, the film had earned over $100 million and was classified as a success. During the remainder of its sixteen-weekend theatrical run, Total Recall never regained the number one position, leaving the top-ten highest-grossing films by the end of July. Total Recall earned an approximate total box office gross of $119.4 million. This figure made it the second-highest-grossing film of the summer, behind the surprise success of Ghost, and the seventh-highest-grossing film of the year behind The Hunt for Red October ($120.1 million), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($135.3 million), Pretty Woman ($178.4 million), Dances with Wolves ($184.2 million), Ghost ($217.6 million), and Home Alone ($285.8 million).
Figures are unavailable for all theatrical releases outside of the U.S. and Canada, but the film is estimated to have earned a further $142 million, giving it a cumulative worldwide gross of $261.4 million, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of the year, behind Dances with Wolves ($424.2 million), Pretty Woman ($432.6 million), Home Alone ($476.7 million), and Ghost ($517.6 million). Taking into account production fees, interest, residual payments, and other costs, Total Recall is estimated to have returned $36 million in profit to the studio.
On its release, Total Recall received mixed reviews from critics, who generally praised the production values and Schwarzenegger's performance, but criticized the violent content. Audience polls by CinemaScore reported moviegoers gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
The narrative polarized reviewers; some praised it as an above-average, complex, and visually interesting science fiction film that successfully blends humor with satirization of the genre's tropes, while others found it lacked humor, romance, or a strong narrative
structure. Gene Siskel and Peter Travers believed the latter half of the film, after Quaid reaches Mars, to be where Total Recall became "mechanical", abandoning logic and artistic ambition for excessive action and violence. Travers described it as a transitory blockbuster in contrast to The Terminator (1984) (also starring Schwarzenegger), which he said would "haunt our dreams". Several reviewers agreed that the hotel confrontation between Quaid and Rekall's Dr. Edgemar on Mars, in which the former learns everything he has experienced is potentially a dream, was the best scene, and found the concept of overwriting memories and identity to be a genuinely horrifying concept. Jonathan Rosenbaum called it a "worthy entry in the dystopian" genre initiated by Blade Runner that avoided being derivative of its predecessors.
The film was often compared to Verhoeven's previous work on RoboCop, with some reviews remarking that Total Recall lacked the same "impudence and incandescence" or satirization of 1980s action films as the earlier film. Some said the film was only fun when Verhoeven inserted moments of RoboCop's camp style. The Washington Post's review compared it unfavorably with the Sylvester Stallone action film Cobra (1986), saying it was disappointing in its overuse of violence and abandonment of cynicism and creativity for machoism and misogyny. Several reviews focused on the excessive violence, with Vincent Canby describing it as part of an influx of action-adventure films featuring numerous deaths, counting seventy-four kills in the film and over two hundred in Die Hard 2. Some were concerned by the dismissive and sometimes comical depiction of the deaths, and the general reliance on violence as a solution to all problems posed. Even so, the Los Angeles Times's review said the violence never seemed to be deliberately sadistic or callous. Despite this criticism, Bottin's practical effects were roundly praised, particularly the three-breasted prostitute and mutants that provided many of the film's standout visuals, despite their sometimes perverse or macabre nature.
Reviews praised Schwarzenegger for playing against his public action hero image by portraying a confused, vulnerable, and sympathetic character, with Roger Ebert considering him vital to the film's success. Desson Howe and Travers described it as Schwarzenegger's finest and most interesting work since The Terminator. Even so, others believed the actor's "superman presence" and comic one-liners were out of place and undermined attempts to make the audience emotionally connect with Quaid's genuine fears about his identity. Janet Maslin wrote that this was further harmed by the narrative failing to emphasize his dual identities. Some reviews considered the role to be beyond Schwarzenegger's acting abilities, describing him as "unusually oafish ... a cross between Frankenstein's monster, a hockey puck, and Colonel Klink", incapable of generating a romantic connection with Stone's or Ticotin's characters. Some female reviewers were critical of the film's treatment of women, who they perceived as "hybrid hooker-commandos" and "basically whores", writing that the three-breasted prostitute is the film's idea of a "witty mutation" while Ticotin "registers less strongly than Stone's ambiguous, blonde slut-wife".
& QUESTS FOR LIFE FILMS
A Space Odyssey - Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C Clarke
Hur (Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins) 1959
Gold (Matthew McConaughy, Kate Hudson) 2008
Indiana Jones and the
Last Crusade 1989
Cruise, (Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson) 2021
World Dominion, (Chris Pratt) 2022
Amistad (Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey) 1997
Croft - Tomb Raider, Pandora's Box 2001
Croft - Tomb Raider, Cradle of Life 2003
Croft - Tomb Raider, Himiko 2018
Python and the Holy Grail 1975
(Tom Cruise, Andria Riseborough) 2013
of the Apes (Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall) 1968
Day (Arnold Schwarzenegger) 2000
Count of Monte Cristo (Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce) 2002
da Vinci Code (Tom Hanks) 2006
Fly - (Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis) 1986
Golden Compass (Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards)
Greatest Story Ever Told (Charlton Heston) 1965
Medicine Man (Sean Connery, Lorraine Bracco) 1992
Pope's Exorcist (Russell Crowe, Julius Avery) 2023
Ten Commandments (Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner) 1956 Cecile B DeMille
Recall - (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone) 1990
(Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg) 2022