Arnold. Mars. Mindgames. Buttkicks.

Let’s all agree to ignore the fact that Total Recall was remade in 2012 with Colin Farrell, and instead focus on the 1990 classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In what was at the time, one of the most expensive movies ever made, Total Recall truly stands the test of time – which can be tricky for many sci-fi action flicks.

Here are 7 reasons why Total Recall is still one of the most ultimate action movies.

1. The Animatronic Self-Driving Taxi

If there’s one aspect of the movie that people seem to remember forever, it’s always seems to be the creepy AF animatronic taxi driver. The movie definitely got self-driving cars right, but still gave it a late-80s/early-90s spin where they expected us to be cool with a Chuck E. Cheese-style animatronic robot acting as your Uber driver. Thankfully, Arnold gives the bot a good deal of smacking around before taking the wheel himself before blowing the whole car up for seemingly no reason at all.

2. Philip K. Dick Plot Twists

The other part people seem to remember about the movie is the amount of plot twists and turns. The mindgames start strong from the beginning and don’t let up. You often have no idea who Arnold really is (which oddly, doesn’t seem to bug Arnold too much himself). The movie is based off of a short story by Philip K. Dick (who’s work has also been adapted into sci-fi action ultimate classic Blade Runner and Minority Report).

3. Dystopian Future

Action sci-fi always equals dystopian future. Not exactly sure why it’s so cool, but if Demolition Man is any indication, the idea of Taco Bell ruling our lives in the future, I’m not too upset. Total Recall isn’t too heavy handed about it, but the bad guy is definitely more interested in corporate profits than human (mutant) lives. Arnold (the good one), sets him straight though.

4. Kick Butt Love Interests

There’s a scene early on where Arnold (then just a lowly construction worker), describes his ideal woman love interest. Arnold specifically asks for: brunette and athletic, which he certainly gets as by 1990, it was expected for big budget action female love interests to tag team kick a steady amount of butt up until the end. Arnold also gets Sharon Stone as an aerobic instructor fake wife at the beginning and meets a diverse group of mutant prostitutes he apparently used to frequent as his old self. And – this!

5. Signature Arnold One-Liners

As far as an Arnold flick goes, it’s pretty par for the course with a handful of good one-liners, and a few great ones. The best have to be a toss up between Arnold shooting his betraying-not-real-wife in the head and saying “Consider that a divorce!” and Arnold using a human-sized drill gun through a tank to kill someone while yelling “SCREW YOU!”

6. Jim Henson Level Mutants

Lots of deformed mutants in this one, which I guess is also a sign of the times. Not that deformities are ever not great for sci-fi and action. But one takes the cake with the rebellion leader Kuato being revealed to be an awful-looking deformed baby popping out of guy’s chest.

7. The Greatest Special Effect in Ultimate Action Movie History

Finally, perhaps the best reason to watch Total Recall again, is just for this truly ultimate special effect scene in which an overweight, middle aged woman going through interplanetary airport customs seems to have a meltdown. As she does, she goes into this weird half-CGI, half animatronic morph to open up from the head to reveal – BAM – it was Arnold, totally calm and cool ready to fight. So. Amazingly. Ultimate.


Have some other great action sci-fi favorites? Or just more Arnold one-liners to share? Let us know in the comments!

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