Verhoeven wasn’t the first to make a fugue state film, one in which everything on screen could conceivably be reality or a hallucination, but Total Recall marked a radical break from the increasingly simplified blockbusters that dominated the 1980s.
Some of the first things about Total Recall I latched onto as a young cinephile were its dazzling production design and special effects, its breathless action sequences, its over-the-top violence—in short, its surface… Today, though, my appreciation for Paul Verhoeven’s mind trip goes beyond simple nostalgia, and hinges on how its seductive look and immediate visceral pleasures are wily in their concealment of grand themes.
With the felicitous help of Jost Vacano’s characteristically lurid cinematography; Jerry Goldsmith’s suggestive soundtrack, which slips oneiric themes between bombastic brass horns and soaring synths; the outrageous make-up effects of Rob Bottin’s team; and ingenious location managers… Verhoeven here links underappreciated and everyday moral and philosophical dilemmas of identity and knowledge into a traditional and implausible hero narrative…
Due to its heavy reliance on the misanthropic blend of flesh and technology, this has aged considerably; things get worse through Arnie's puppet-like grimaces, which though match the overall pulp aesthetic. The screenplay is strong and the social nuances of a (consumer) proletarian's vision of happiness quite intriguing. Yet, beyond the masculine voyeuerism on the Stone-Ticotin TKD sparring there is little to recall.
Get yo azz to maazz! A real schlock-fest with gratuitous gore and violence with Arnie on fine campy form. Verhoeven is going very much the same route as in Robocop and Starship Troopers which works for me when it comes to pacing and visuals. The script could have played up the "is it real or not" motif more to add some ambiguity but Verhoeven seems content just to gross you out. Works for me!
After the artistic and commercial triumph of "Robocop" Verhoeven created this hurtling, ultra-violent, unrelentingly intense and exciting action masterpiece. The film deals with fascinating themes regarding memory and identity while delivering one thrilling action set piece after another. Probably the smartest and most complex vehicle (on the script level) that Arnold ever had. Verhoeven's craft is second to none.
This is another one of those films that didn't need a remake. Schwarzenegger actually made some pretty dynamic science fiction and Paul Verhoeven continues his string of Hollywood hits. Plus who can say no to three boobs?
Pure camp fun. Arnold is at his bombastic best here, full of bulging eyes, and absurd one liners. I love the visual designs, too. They resemble something like the future as envisioned in a B52's music video. It's not as good as Blade Runner, but it's less serious and more fun.
Dated and amusing nonsense with an interesting concept, even if the execution leaves a lot to be desired. But for much as I knock Verhoeven's Total Recall, the tiny hooker with a machine gun standing on a bar firing away still cracks me up. Ultimately, Total Recall is fun crap.