Total Recall (1990)
November 24, 2014 7:42 AM - Subscribe

CRFC5: In 1990's Total Recall, Paul Verhoeven crafts a twisting and turning action thriller about a man named Quaid who wants to take a trip to Mars. Instead he decides to try out a new service that will implant memories of fantastic vacations into the minds of its customers: Rekall Incorporated. However, things become more complicated as the procedure goes wrong, and Quaid is chased by a past that he doesn't quite remember.

The Constructed Reality Film Club has previously watched: eXistenZ, Strange Days, Source Code and Paprika

Total Recall is available for streaming on Netflix Instant.

A central question of the film is whether or not Quaid actually got his ass to mars.

This post covers the relevant facts, and outlines the two possible theories. This post argues heavily that it's all in Quaid's head.

FilmSchoolRejects discusses 24 things that they learned from the commentary track.
posted by codacorolla (18 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Someone has to say it: "Consider dat duh divohce."
posted by Chrysostom at 10:28 AM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

Weirdly enough, the film that made Sharon Stone a star.

And gave a Matthew Sweet album its name.
posted by Naberius at 11:02 AM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like this every time I watch it! No exception for this viewing.

There does seem to be a stylistic break between Quaid as the everyman and Houser the spy. Either way, Verhoeven is using the conceit of constructed reality to poke fun and satirize both the action movie genre (which this is an exemplar of, even as it critiques the form) and America's relationship to big-budget fantasy.

Apart from all of that, there are great practical effects, action scenes, characters and dialog. Just a real joyride of a movie.
posted by codacorolla at 1:32 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Someone has to say it: "Consider dat duh divohce."

One of the things that's mentioned in the commentary is that the first pass had him saying "Consider this a divohce", then shooting her, but it played poorly and they changed it.
posted by ftm at 1:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Never managed to watch this all the way through. On netflix eh?
posted by sammyo at 2:08 PM on November 24, 2014

I have a perverse love for this movie. Plus the title of it has led to many jokes over the years regarding California politics.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:39 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh god, oh god, you have to actually listen to the commentary track with Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger!!

These are two guys who, let's just say, probably don't hang out and talk about film a lot. Verhoeven is endlessly droning on about the film as a metaphor for colonialism and comparing his camera angles to Hitchcock's, while Schwarzenegger's just narrating the movie while we watch it. Best moment of all: "There's the thing that came out of my nose! That's how the bad guys could track me!"

Most bizarre commentary track ever!
posted by Naberius at 7:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]

I love Total Recall. Strangely, I didn't think much of it the first time I saw it, but it has grown on me over the years. Here is a my comment from the last Total Recall metafilter thread where I expound at length about my favorite scene.

(Is this where we say that the remake sucked? Because the remake sucked)
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:12 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's funny how the film's ambiguity is maintained. Because on one hand you have a mountain of evidence that this is, in fact, exactly the vacation that Quaid paid for. Everything that happens is mentioned in the scene where he is getting the memories implanted, and when he identifies the woman he wants, Melina appears on the screen. And then the entire plot is ludicrous.

But, then, one the other side, how could it all be a dream? Quaid is just a construction worker. Why the fuck does he have muscles like that?
posted by maxsparber at 8:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Quaid only went to Recall and asked for that specific holiday (including the woman) because of his vivid dreams of Mars. Dreams that could be suppressed memories leaking through the implanted personality. Or they could just be dreams, and Quaid is just getting what he asked for - a ridiculously complex, violent, and sexy thrill ride.

The only clue is that one of the technicians at Recall says something like "there is already something here" in the background after the memory implant has started. But even that is ambiguous, since it could mean anything and the procedure is presumably already writing the story into Quaid's brain.
posted by AndrewStephens at 10:10 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

"Blue skies on Mars, haven't seen that before."


So yeah, just a dream - but what a fantastic, pulpy, propulsive ride, (the camera movements as Ironside runs along the train!).
posted by jettloe at 7:16 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Having seen this movie more times than the remake, I consider myself justified in agreeing that the remake (with Colin Farell) an abomination, and Dick would be spinning in his cryo chamber.
A train tunnel through the middle of the earth?? Seriously???

I still haven't satisfied myself about the ending - which lends to its charm.
posted by arzakh at 3:51 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm doing Dark City for next Monday, be there AND be square!
posted by codacorolla at 10:08 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

He totally went to Mars and it was all real. You will never convince me otherwise
posted by fshgrl at 4:12 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I kind of liked the remake as a fluffy futuristic movie. The title made no sense though.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:21 PM on November 27, 2014

We just rewatched this and I can't believe I never noticed the Han Solo beer ad thing in the bar before.
posted by fshgrl at 6:37 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

"We just rewatched this and I can't believe I never noticed the Han Solo beer ad thing in the bar before."

I've no idea what you're talking about so I'm going to use your comment as an excuse to watch the movie again. SEE YOU AT THE PAHTY! /throws down arms

Also, since apparently it really is all a dream (according to Verhoeven) then the next interesting question arises: Is it the Rekall experience or did something actually go wrong during the procedure and he's stuck?
posted by I-baLL at 12:59 PM on June 5, 2015

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