365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

29Jun/110

Total Recall (1990)

Seeing this movie for the first time 20 years after it was made and after hearing friend after friend say to me, "You still haven't seen Total Recall? I can't believe that. You've got to see it. It's a classic", I expected much, much more during my viewing. To think that Terminator 2:  Judgment Day was released just a year later diminishes the value of Total Recall in my opinion. Whether just or unjust, I couldn't help but compare Total Recall to the theater experience I had of seeing Terminator 2: Judgment Day back in 1991. While Terminator 2 had cutting edge special effects, edge of your seat action,  and decent acting, Total Recall felt cheesy, worn, and clumsy. In addition, the acting was atrocious.

If you are strictly talking about a science fiction story, then Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall does an effective job. Based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, this is first and foremost very much an Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick. But unlike the string of action movies (Commando, Predator, The Running Man, Red Heat) that Schwarzenegger had starred in in the late 1980's, Total Recall had much more of a complex plot; one that involves both mistaken identity as well as issues of fantasy vs reality. Total Recall also became Schwarzenegger's first action movie to gross more than $100 million and just his second overall to achieve this feat (1988's Twins with Danny Devito earned $111 million).

However, Total Recall gets lost in whether it is more interested in being an action popcorn flick or a science fiction thought provoker. It tries to do both and, as a result, a little bit of each is lost. There are too many action sequences for my mind to take the movie seriously and too many plot holes interspersed for me to care much about the story. I will say that the first 30 minutes were great. I did get hooked in. But the acting was so poor and the plot twists too confusing for what I kept want to classify as an action movie. I lost interest soon thereafter and that interest continued to wane as the movie progressed.

Plot 7.5/10
Character Development 5.5/10
Character Chemistry 5/10
Acting 3/10
Screenplay 4.5/10
Directing 6.5/10
Cinematography 7.5/10
Sound 7/10
Hook and Reel 8/10
Universal Relevance 7/10
61.5%

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