Total Recall (1990)

Paul Verhoeven’s adaptation of the Philip K. Dick source material is peak Verhoeven: Like “RoboCop” before it and “Starship Troopers” after it, Verhoeven’s vision is cynical and ultra-violent, and he manages to make an unlikely crowd-pleaser with content typically more appropriate for a genre audience than a mainstream blockbuster. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a great actor but he has undeniable charm and screen presence, and he’s so well-cast  here as a sort of audience surrogate that it’s hard to imagine the movie without him. The supporting cast is also terrific, but it’s the sets and special effects that make the movie so memorable and visually arresting. Of course, the source material provides plenty of thematic content and surprises that keep the audience on its feet, and all these elements put together make for a genre classic that has stood the test of time.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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