Schwarzenegger and science fiction mixed perfectly.
Phillip K. Dick’s work is some of my favorite in all of the science fiction writing I have ever consumed. The basis for films such as ‘Minority Report’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Paycheck’ and ‘Total Recall’, his writing has always had an influence on my science fiction tastes. Thinking back, the sheer idea of a PKD short story being adapted by Paul Verhoeven (‘Robocop’, ‘Starship Troopers’), and starring legendary household name Arnold Schwarzenegger sounds like gold, and it certainly is.
The result is a mind-bending science fiction-based plot, with wonderful 80’s era action and Verhoeven’s special brand of satire.
This film is yet another one put on Amazon Prime recently that was a sacred part of my childhood, and it still holds up. Set in the future, Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who is unsatisfied with his life, who has always wanted to go to Mars (where human civilization has been established for some time). He knows he can’t do the real thing, so he goes to ‘Rekall’ a place that implants false memories of things like vacations, and Quaid opts to have one on Mars, and everything goes downhill from there. He is joined by Sharon Stone who portrays his wife Lori, Rachel Ticotin, Michael Ironside, and Ronny Cox. One-liners, severed limbs and tongue-in-cheek explosive action all come together perfectly.
Like ‘Starship Troopers’ soon after it, one of the most admirable things about ‘Total Recall’ is the setting, and practical effects. Both Earth and Mars have a lived in atmosphere to them, with an unmistakable visual flare that makes it perfectly clear it’s a Verhoeven movie. While definitely dated, the practical effects in this film are phenomenal. The scene where Arnold is the red-haired woman in disguise and the resistance leader Kuato all hold up incredibly well and bring a smile.
Just like all his other movies in his prime, Arnold himself alone makes this movie incredibly watchable. Using his innate charisma, Quaid is a perfect protagonist. Somebody you can root for, and also someone incredibly overpowered who will always get the bad guy, not to mention iconic 80’s era action, with the added Verhoeven gore.
But saying this is just an Arnold action movie doesn’t give it enough credit. I can unbiasedly say it is one of the best Schwarzenegger-headlined films, not to mention science fiction films as well. While remaining accessible, it still has Phillip K. Dick’s DNA in it too. Like my other Sci-Fi favorites, it has an open ended and mind-bending nature, and that is just of a bonus of the awesome time to be had by watching this movie.
Overall, the only person I wouldn’t recommend this movie to is someone who doesn’t like Schwarzenegger and some Verhoeven moments, but other than that if you don’t go in expecting it to be anything else, than this is really an awesome movie. It’s the type of movie you can put on and can just cheer you up, with how much fun it is. I can’t emphasize enough that this film is incredibly watchable, and rewatching this film, because of how incredibly re-watchable it is, is never a bad idea.