Total Recall: Ultimate Rekall Edition REVIEW

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone in Total Recall.

"... And in this scene I'm pointing a gun at someone, and that thing in my hand is..." "ARNOLD, THEY CAN SEE THAT! THEY'RE WATCHING THE FILM!"

1990 | 15 | 108 minutes | £24.99 (DVD/Blu-ray)
Distributor: StudioCanal
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox

A symphony of breaking glass, swearing and Uzi fire occasionally interrupted by car chases or flashes of tit, Total Recall seems to have been surgically targetted at a demographic of 14-year-old boys. If one moments sums it up, it’s when a gunman mowing down civilians is stabbed in the cock by a dwarf hooker. The fact that it includes eye-watering amounts of genital punishment (which the unfortunate Arnold Schwarzenegger is usually on the wrong end of) is appropriate, cos it’s about as subtle a kick in the dick.

Speaking of which, one can’t help wondering what Philip K Dick would have thought of it all. Paul Verhoeven’s film uses the writer’s 1966 short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” as a springboard, taking its basic premise of a man who has memories of a trip to Mars implanted, only to discover that he’s been there for real, as a secret agent. Sending Arnie off to Mars in search of answers, when it’s not blowing shit up the script makes a decent stab at emulating Dick’s style, adding some reality-questioning twists all of its own.

In the extras, the director praises Arnie for his work rate, revealing that he was willing to do 30 or 40 takes to get a better performance. They could have kept filming until the heat death of the universe, though, since Arnie is incapable of convincingly portraying a human being. What the muscleman does have is likeability. That partly explains why, for all its brash, ball-busting brutality, Total Recall is the Verhoeven movie even people who hate Verhoeven movies can take to their hearts.


Bonuses from the previous special edition have been ported over, including a hilarious commentary in which Arnie painstakingly describes what’s happening on screen for the benefit of the hard of thinking. The one new addition is an animated interview with the motormouth Verhoeven, complete with sound effects and arm waving (35 minutes).

Ian Berriman