Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: Now

Total Recall Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune

    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]

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today 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]

  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Starts out as mind-bending futuristic satire and then turns relentless -- it becomes a violent, postpunk version of an Indiana Jones cliff-hanger.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    One of the most complex and visually interesting science fiction movies in a long time.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Total Recall reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Brilliant but disturbing and violent Schwarzenegger sci-fi.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Total Recall is packed with heavy sci-fi violence that's treated with a dark humor. It includes women fighting and being shot, innocent bystanders used as shields, dead bodies, limbs ripped off, blood, fighting, and more. There are some sexual situations, including an alien woman with three naked breasts. Language is also very strong, including many uses of "f--k" and "s--t." There are also ads for Pepsi sprinkled throughout, as well as ads for beer. Most teen sci-fi fans will eventually want to see this.

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. Would you consider it over-the-top? What reactions do you have to this kind of violence and is it any different than seeing realistic violence?
  • Is Quaid a likeable hero? What makes him heroic? What does he do that's not so heroic?
  • What does this movie have to say about our future (or our present)? What concepts in it are realistic? Which are fantasy?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The main plot has to do with evil corporate thugs controlling everything, while individuals could have the power to stand up to them, if only they find the courage. As such, the heroes face some very heavy odds, and solve some big problems, even if their methods are questionable.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Schwarzenegger may be a role model in some of his other films, but in this one his character is excessively mean and violent. He shoots and kills bad guys, uses innocent bystanders as shields, and even beats up women. Additionally, there's very little teamwork, as he's not sure who to trust.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: This movie is famous for its graphic sci-fi violence. Arnold smashes his space helmet on Mars and his face bulges and explodes (in a dream). The many fight scenes include shooting, punching, slicing, kicking, breaking bones, and spurting blood. Women fight each other and are shot and killed. The main character also punches a female, and uses an innocent bystander as a shield (the bystander is riddled with bullets and dies, and the scene is played for humor). Dead bodies are stepped on. Arms are ripped off, and characters are briefly tortured. Some of the visual effects are somewhat disturbing as well, such as the hero pulling a large tracking device from his nose.

  • sex false3

    Sex: The main character's wife seduces him, kissing him and undoing her top (nothing shown). An alien woman shows her breasts -- all three of them. A flier for a sex show is shown. There's some innuendo, especially as the hero travels through Mars' "red light district."

  • language false5

    Language: Very strong language throughout, with prevalent use of both "f--k" and "s--t." Also: "butt," "bitch," "porking," "ass," "asshole," "d--k," "bastard," "damn," "Christ," and "Jesus."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Pepsi cans are visible, and so is a Pepsi logo. A Lite beer (Miller?) logo is visible. There are several Mars Today newspaper racks, and the logo is similar to that of USA Today. Also a Jack in the Box sign.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some scenes take place in a saloon, and beer is advertised, but very little drinking is actually shown.