Total Recall Movie Review - Schrödinger’s Kuato

Updated on March 4, 2018
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is an honest construction worker who lives with certain comforts along with his gorgeous wife Lori (Sharon Stone). It's a good life. Any other man would be satisfied, but not Quaid, who thanks to a recurring dream, has a deep feeling that something is missing.

This dream, located on Mars, always starts with the joy of the companion of a mysterious brunette woman and ends like a nightmare, with Quaid dying due to exposition to the hostile environment of the red planet.

Inspired by his vivid dream, Quaid frequently expresses his wish to travel to Mars. His wife Lori hates the idea, mainly because of the red planet's political instability, where Governor Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox) is in constant battle with local rebels, both in the pursuit of a supposedly powerful alien artifact hidden deep in Mars' abandoned mines.

Quaid's obsession with his dream is such that he ultimately decides to hire the services of Rekall, a company that provides memory implants of perfectly designed vacations. It's the year 2084, and virtual tourism is the favorite escapism choice for the majority of the population that doesn't have the time nor the money to make the real trips.

Quaid not only chooses Mars as a destination but customizes his companion to look exactly like the brunette woman of his dreams. He even ends up paying extra for the "secret agent fantasy combo."

The genius of Total Recall is that after those first 20 minutes, the film takes a kinda-Schrödinger's-cat-route, showing one story on screen, that are two very different films, depending exclusively on what the viewer believed has happened.

At Rekall, Quaid has an adverse reaction to the process, and before the memory is implanted (or so we believe), he begins to have revelations of suppressed memories of a previous life in which he was, indeed, a secret agent called Hauser. Rekall decides to eliminate all trace of the visit, erasing Quaid's recent memory, refunding the money and sending him home.

From then on everything becomes a frenzy sci-fi adventure, full of betrayals, twists, and blood. Quaid is in the middle of a two-planets conspiracy, where his current life was created of false memories, designed to eliminate his former Hauser personality. Or perhaps, all we are seeing is Quaid's perfect fantasy created by Rekall.

What's Your Rating For Total Recall?

See results

I don't remember another film where two different branches are narrated as plausible options during most of the duration of the piece, instead of being used as a narrative resource for a third act twist. During three opportunities, three different characters practically reveal the entirety of the third act, promoting 1) the theory that this a dream designed by Rekall or 2) an ironic foreshadowing about the final destiny of our hero.

Total Recall doesn't have the philosophical depth of sci-fi classics like Blade Runner or 2001: A Space Odyssey. Instead, it has glorious pop decadence in the form of Schwarzenegger's one-liners, three-boobed prostitutes, a parasitic twin mutant leader and a dwarf in lingerie firing a machine gun. Liquid gold entertainment.

But even in its apparent blockbuster superficiality, Verhoeven (RoboCop, Starship Troopers) makes clear its recurrent motif about dystopian societies where capitalism has been deepened by the passage of time and the absolute control of new technologies. Rekall is the incarnation of the dangers of a perfect simulated life controlled by a private corporation. It's capitalism's ideal scenario.

And that's clear in any of the two films the viewer choose to believe: In one version, Rekall uses Quaid's workforce AND his salary to sell him the illusion of an unreachable perfect life. In the other, they use Hauser's talents to destroy political opposition and eliminate enemies by erasing their personality, while ensuring the control and capitalization of elemental life resources like oxygen.

Movie Details

Title: Total Recall

Release Year: 1990

Director(s): Paul Verhoeven

Writer(s): Philip K. Dick, Dan O'Bannon

Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, a.o.

4 stars for Total Recall (1990)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)