Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside. Based on a 1966 short story by Philip K. Dick, Total Recall tells the story of Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who receives a memory implant about a fantastical adventure on Mars. He subsequently finds his adventure occurring in reality as agents of a shadow organization trying to prevent him from recovering memories of his past as a Martian secret agent.
With a super expensive budget estimated in $48–90 millions, filming took place almost entirely in Mexico over six months. Cast and crew suffered injuries and food poisoning during filming.
Expectations were high for Total Recall: it was anticipated to be one of the year’s most successful films. On its release, the film earned approximately $261.4 million worldwide, making it the seventh-highest-grossing film of the year. Its critical reception was mixed, with reviewers praising its themes of identity and questioning reality, but criticizing content perceived as vulgar and violent. The practical special effects were also well received, earning the film an Academy Award, and the score by Jerry Goldsmith has been praised as one of his best works.
Since its release, the film has been praised for its ambiguity regarding its ending and whether Quaid’s adventures are real or a fantasy. It has also been analyzed for themes of colonialism, authoritarianism, sexism, and racism. Retrospective reviews have called it one of Schwarzenegger’s best films and placed it among the best science-fiction films ever made.