Mixed or average reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 17
  2. Negative: 2 out of 17
  1. 88
    One of the most complex and visually interesting science fiction movies in a long time.
  2. Starts out as mind-bending futuristic satire and then turns relentless -- it becomes a violent, postpunk version of an Indiana Jones cliff-hanger.
  3. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Top-flight muscleman entertainment that is not afraid to have a brain or two in its head.
  4. If the movie sometimes seems overwhelmed by its budget and its legendary third-act problems, it's still entertainingly raw and brutal, full of whiplash pace and juicy exaggeration. [1 June 1990, Calendar, p.F-1]
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Fast, witty, glamorous, with thrill piling on giggle atop gasp. [11 June 1990, p.85]
  6. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    The fierce and unrelenting pace, accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek strain of humor in the roughhouse screenplay, keeps the film moving like a juggernaut.
  7. A worthy entry in the dystopian cycle of SF movies launched by "Blade Runner" (including "The Terminator" and "Robocop"), this seems less derivative than most of its predecessors yet equally accomplished in its straight-ahead storytelling, with plenty of provocative satiric undertones and scenic details.
  8. A first-rate action movie, slickly done and with so many imaginative bonuses that, for a time, it feels like a classic in the making. It's not, but it's still solid and entertaining [1 June 1990]
  9. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Both female roles are unexpectedly meaty, so much so that the film loses something once the far more lively Stone is dispatched. Hour one (more satirical) is better all around, though the falloff isn't fatal. [1 June 1990, Life, p.2D]
  10. Reviewed by: Johanna Steinmetz
    From first to last frame, Total Recall is in your face. Its rather elegant little science-fiction story is as suffocated as the Martians are. The director has violated his own movie, going so far over the top he's still out there-weightless. [1 June 1990, Friday, p.C]
  11. 63
    An "intelligent" action film, because it presents the viewer with an opportunity to puzzle things out rather than sit mindlessly and watch people get blown to pieces.
  12. The plot, based on a Phillip K. Dick story, is ingenious; and Arnold Schwarzenegger brings an effective blend of machismo and innocence to his role. Too bad director Paul Verhoeven lets brainless violence and tricky special effects swamp the cleverness of the tale itself. [22 June 1990, Arts, p.10]
  13. Mr. Verhoeven is much better at drumming up this sort of artificial excitement than he is at knowing when to stop.
  14. Reviewed by: Staff (Non Credited)
    Ugly, stupid, loud, offensive, and pointlessly violent--let's not mince words--this film should be called "Total Reject."
  15. Actually, any fun you might encounter in Recall can be traced, most often, to director Verhoeven, who injects some of his "Robocop" camp into this mega-dumb project.
  16. Guilty of gross mellerdrammer & innocent of sophistication... Guilty of being dumber than WWF wrestling & innocent of hypocrisy about its cartoon violence.
  17. 0
    The overall effect is like wading through hospital waste. Verhoeven, who also directed the maliciously stylistic "Robocop," disappoints with this appalling onslaught of blood and boredom.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 123 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 24
  2. Negative: 1 out of 24
  1. Aug 25, 2010
    Philip K. Dick is one of the best sci-fi authors in history. In fact almost all his written work has been transposed into great film. Total Recall is one of his best efforts. Again this is a movie that requires a thought process, so if Napoleon Dynamite is your fave, give up and don't watch this movie because you will get lost. The ending is purposely left to your won interpretation... this makes it GREAT! Full Review »
  2. Jun 29, 2014
    Total Recall is a great sci fi movie. It launches action at the screen and has one of Arnold's best roles next to the terminator franchise. The action is inventive and the plot is very complex. The movie also has decent drama and humour. Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox and Sharon Stone all add to the movie with their roles. Overall this is a brilliant action thriller from start to finish, a classic in every reviewable area. Full Review »
  3. Mar 10, 2013
    After experiencing recurring dreams of an alternate life on Mars, Douglas Quaid visits Rekall, a company that deals in virtual vacations, to receive memory implants of a trip to Mars with an added package that would transform him into an interplanetary spy. Before the procedure can begin, however, Quaid experiences a schizoid embolism that awakens hidden memories which had been erased from his mind, and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a corporate conspiracy that will take him back to Mars as he fends off evil mercenaries in an attempt to save the planet. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the explosive Sci-Fi thriller TOTAL RECALL, from 1990! Director Paul Verhoeven takes us along on this wild adventure through the futuristic streets of Earth in the year 2084 and beneath the red sands of Mars using mind-blowing make-up, production designs, and digital effects that earned the film the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects that year. The adrenaline-pumping action and suspense never let up from beginning to end, while the audience is left to decipher whether the events on screen are really happening, or if this is all just part of some elaborate nightmare. Arnold is better than usual as our exciting action hero, this time going up against a menacing Michael Ironside in another of his stereotypical roles as the film's baddie. With a compelling and complex storyline to match its jaw-dropping special effects, TOTAL RECALL earns its place as one of the strongest Science Fiction films from the 1990s.

    -Carl Manes
    I Like Horror Movies
    Full Review »