TOTAL RECALL Arnold Schwarzenegger
Credit: Everett Collection

Sandwiched between the family-friendly double whammy of 1988’s Twins and 1990’s Kindergarten Cop on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s résumé Total Recall (1990, R, 1 hr., 53 mins.) is the most unrelentingly violent film the strapping cinematic sadist has ever served up. Not only is it one of my favorite Ah-nuld movies, it’s one of my favorite movies, period. And I couldn’t be happier to see it being released on a new ”Mind-Bending Edition” Blu-ray just before Colin Farrell’s remake heads to theaters on Aug. 3. As a Total Recall aficionado, I have complicated feelings about Hollywood messing with the original, but that’s another story for another time. Until then, let me just say that if you’re the kind of person whose default position upon hearing that a Schwarzenegger flick can be thought-provoking is ”Yeah, right!” do yourself a favor and, as the Austrian Oak himself says, ”get your ass to Mars.”

Based on sci-fi guru Philip K. Dick’s 1966 story ”We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” Total Recall is set in the year 2084 and centers on Doug Quaid (Schwarzenegger), a happily married (to Sharon Stone) construction worker who’s always dreamed of going to the Red Planet. So he pays a visit to Rekall — a company that implants a memory chip that gives him the sensation of having gone there. Instead, he has the ultimate bad trip, learns his whole life is built on invented memories, and goes on the run from very mean people with very large guns. (Or is this all part of the Rekall program too?) Director Paul Verhoeven gooses the film with the same subversive wit he brought to RoboCop and asks some pretty big questions that admittedly sound less philosophical coming out of Schwarzenegger’s mouth (”If I’m not me, den who da hell am I?”). Still, the Möbius-strip plot will scramble your melon, and the villains (Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside) are top-notch. The only thing that doesn’t entirely hold up — and this is minor — is the film’s once-cutting-edge F/X. As for the EXTRAS, they include a new interview with Verhoeven, but the highlight is Schwarzenegger’s hilarious commentary, which has become an Internet sensation due to his startling knack for stating the obvious (”Here, this is my job, I’m a construction worker”). It’s priceless. A

Total Recall
  • Movie