Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven, with a screenplay by Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, and Gary Goldman. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. Based on the 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick, Total Recall tells the story of Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger), a construction worker who receives an implanted memory of a fantastical adventure on Mars. He subsequently finds his adventure occurring in reality as agents of a shadow organization try to prevent him from recovering memories of his past as a Martian secret agent aiming to stop the tyrannical regime of Martian dictator Vilos Cohaagen (Cox).
Shusett bought the rights to Dick's short story in 1974 and developed a script with O'Bannon. Although considered promising, the ambitious scope kept the project in development hell at multiple studios over sixteen years, seeing forty script drafts, seven different directors, and multiple actors cast as Quaid. Total Recall eventually entered the early stages of filming in 1987 under the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group shortly before its bankruptcy. Schwarzenegger, who had long held an interest in the project but had been dismissed as inappropriate for the lead role, convinced Carolco Pictures to purchase the rights and develop the film with him as the star. On an estimated $48–80 million budget (making it one of the most expensive films made in its time), filming took place on expansive sets at Estudios Churubusco in Mexico over six months. Cast and crew experienced numerous injuries and illnesses during filming.
Total Recall 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 fifth-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 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, Total Recall has been praised for its ambiguous ending positing whether Quaid's adventures are real or a fantasy, and it has also been analyzed for themes of authoritarianism and colonialism. Retrospective reviews have called it one of Schwarzenegger's best films and placed it among the best science fiction films ever made. Alongside comic books and video games, Total Recall has been adapted into the 1999 television series Total Recall 2070. An early attempt at a sequel, based on Dick's The Minority Report, became the 2002 standalone film Minority Report, and a 2012 remake, also titled Total Recall, failed to replicate the success of the original.