Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid, a humble construction worker in the 21st Century who has bad dreams about Mars, where he's never been, and a beautiful woman he's never met. Dropping by a futuristic holiday firm where you can be injected with the memories of a wonderful two-week vacation someone else took for you, Quaid freaks out before he can be given a fantasy-filled trip to Mars in the guise of a secret agent on a vital mission, and then discovers that everyone, including his lovin
Total Recall - an explosion of machine-gunning, gut-punching, throat-ripping, eyeball-exploding, bone-breaking gratuitous violence - is a film not for the faint of heart, though some of the rubberized effects have lost their impact with age.
Adapted from the short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by science fiction guru Philip K. Dick, it is also, however, a nonstop roller-coaster ride of top-flight action entertainment that isn't afraid to have a brain or two in its head. Featuring vast sets, magnificent explosions, plentiful plot twists and the aforementioned ultra-violence, the film keeps pulling the narrative rug out from under you in thoroughly unexpected ways that exploit the paranoid nervousness that makes Dick - author also of the source novel for Blade Runner - such an insightful and important writer.
One moment in particular, which explains why Cox hasn't had the traitor killed outright and has instead dreamed up this whole Quaid deal, is among the cleverest revelations in the cinema which at the time, stretched Schwarzenegger's action man persona into wholly new areas (though the later stretch to comedy and politics we could perhaps have done without).
A bloody roller coaster narrative from the creators of 'Alien' and plenty of tough-guy action speak makes this a still thoroughly enjoyable set-piece, though the effects have lost their shock value since the heavy use of CGI took over some years after the release. But worryingly satisfying in a purely gruesome, beat-em-up kinda way.