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Tropes from movie/film Total Recall (1990) (Part 2)

Tropes from movie/film Total Recall (1990)

  • Excuse Me, Coming Through!: Well, he was carrying a gun, what did you expect?
  • Exploding Fish Tanks: At one point we see Cohaagen feed fish in the tank in his office. Of course, this means the tank will later break.
  • Explosive Decompression: Happens to humans exposed to Mars' lethal atmosphere. See Eye Scream below.
  • Exposition Beam: Kuato does this to unlock Quaid's locked memories. In a sense, the story itself is set in motion because the Fake Memory implanting machines in the Rekall center jostle Quaid's hidden memories (or worked perfectly).
  • Eye Scream: The eyes of characters exposed to the near-vacuum atmosphere of Mars start to grotesquely swell and bulge out of the eye sockets. Even if they recover from suffocation, they should be blind after their eyes have taken that kind of abuse. But then, the entire movie seems to be a case of Eyes Are Unbreakable.
  • Fade to White: The final scene fades to white after the Big Damn Kiss. This was to leave some question marks regarding whether everything was a dream and Quaid got lobotomized in the end as suggested earlier by Dr. Edgemar. Or, you know, that's just his vacation ending.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Quaid seems unaware of Kuato's resistance movement, despite it being featured on the news at the beginning of the film. Apparently, he simply tuned out the words "terrorist attack" and focused solely on the Mars part.
  • Fake Memories: Rekall's business model consists in implanting these.
  • Fake Static: Richter (blaming sunspots), when Cohaagen is trying to give him orders.
  • False Friend: Harry is Quaid's best friend and coworker, but after the botched Ego Trip he tries to kill him without hesitation.
  • Fanservice Extra: The triple-breasted hooker Mary has essentially three jobs: showing off her exotic rack, letting Benny fondle her exotic rack, and eventually getting shot In the Back by Richter to make a point to the resistance.
  • Faux Action Girl: Subverted by Quaid's "wife" Lori. At one point, she seems to be becoming one, then proceeds to start kicking ass all over again.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Lori is busy explaining her true role at Rekall to Quaid after she ambushes him in their apartment, Richter and his goons can be seen on a video-screen walking into the lobby of their apartment complex and checking the resident directory about thirty seconds before Lori finally notices, causing Quaid's attention to be diverted to it as well.
  • Foreshadowing: Multiple examples:
    • When Dr. Lull tosses Ernie a computer chip, he looks at it and says "That's a new one! 'Blue Sky on Mars'."
    • When Quaid threatens to shoot Dr. Edgemar in the Hilton suite, Edgemar describes the events that will happen almost verbatim throughout the rest of the movie. Even the walls literally collapse right after Quaid rejects the pill.
    • Cohaagen has a temper tantrum and smashes an aquarium. The fish die gasping for oxygen, foreshadowing the attempted suffocation of Venusville. And Cohaagen's eventual death by way of dying in an atmosphere that he can't breathe.
    • When Bob McClane at Rekall is trying to convince Quaid to buy the "Secret Agent Ego Trip" package, he tells Quaid that by the end he'll "get the girl, kill the bad guys, and save the entire planet." Which is exactly what he does.
    • During his initial sales pitch, McClane mentions one of the problems with real vacations being "crooked taxi drivers." Which is what Benny turns out to be.
    • When Quaid goes berserk at Rekall he shouts, "YOU BLEW MY COVER!" as per The Reveal that he's actually a Fake Defector.
    • After Quaid tries to explain his situation to Melina, she doesn't believe him and accuses him (or rather Hauser) of never actually loving her and only using her to get to Kuato. It turns out she was one-hundred percent right, and their relationship was just part of a very elaborate plan concocted by Cohaagen and Hauser to find and eliminate Kuato.
    • Benny groping Mary's breasts is an indication that he's not a very good family man.
  • Friend to All Children: Upon first arriving at Venusville, Quaid is hounded by prostitutes, vendors and the like, including two mystics, a woman and a girl. He ignores the woman but affectionately listens to the girl, who guesses that he's a Taurus, and also pays her.
  • Futuristic Jet Injector: While Douglas Quaid is at Rekall to get a memory implant, he is given a relaxant in a gun-type jet injector to make it easier for the implantation to occur. When Quaid later goes berserk, he is repeatedly injected in the leg with the same injector to render him unconscious.
  • Gambit Roulette: Cohaagen's plan, with Lampshade Hanging:

    Vilos Cohaagen: Richter goes hog-wild screwing up everything that I spent a year planning. Frankly... I'm amazed it worked!

  • Girl of My Dreams: Melina, to Quaid. He's been dreaming about her at the start of the film, which is an indication of his hidden memories.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Quaid's memory implantation at Rekall. Supposedly.
  • GornTons of it. It's a Paul Verhoeven movie, what did you expect?
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Yes, even a movie as gory as this has examples.
    • When Richter shoots the rat, all we see is its blood splattered on a projector's display.
    • When Quaid kills Benny with a power drill, all we see is a shoulders-up view of him thrashing around and screaming before Quaid withdraws the drill, now coated in blood.
    • Richter getting his arms chopped off is shown onscreen, but not we don't see him falling a hundred feet to the ground and splattering everywhere, although the former injury would perhaps make seeing the latter redundant.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: The phrase "Kuato Lives" graffitied around Mars, as a sign that the mysterious leader of La Résistance is still alive despite Cohaagen's attempts to kill him.
  • Grand Theft Me: Quaid not being the original personality, technically he is the bodyjacker in the entire situation. Quaid was only supposed to temporarily take over to lead Cohaagen and Hauser to the resistance. Quaid didn't want to give it back.
    • That is, unless the post-Rekall sequence is a delusion.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Richter's enthusiasm to kill Quaid appears to be based primarily around the fact that Richter's wife was the agent assigned to pose as Quaid's wife Lori. And that she clearly enjoyed several aspects of that particular mission. At least until Lori gets killed, at which point his motives centre on good old-fashioned revenge. There are also added implications from his original alias, Hauser, being best friends with his Bad Boss, Cohaagen.
  • Groin Attack: Happens so often you could make a drinking game out of it.
    • Lori does this to Quaid twice the first time she fights him: once with her fist, once with a kick.
    • Later in the film she stomps on them after capturing him. Quaid was in the middle of a fight with some mooks until Lori enters and kicks his face, seemingly knocks him out in the process. But she doesn't buy it for a moment, so she stomps on his crotch just to make sure that he's indeed still conscious, before kicking his face again and knocking him out for real this time.
    • Richter does it to a patron of the Last Resort during the assault on the place.
    • The little person prostitute Thumbelina does it to Richter's partner with a knife. Ouch.
  • Handy Cuffs: Quaid, after he's captured by the bad guys on Mars.
  • Happiness in Mind Control: At the end of the film, Quaid discovers that Hauser was Evil All Along, and if the bad guys win, he'll be turned back. He thus fights his way free, forcing the Big Bad to decide to just kill him because he's never getting his friend back.
  • He Knows Too Much: Mentioned by Richter as the reason why he wants to kill Quaid. Since Cohaagen has other plans for Quaid, he orders Richter to catch him alive.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: When we see Quaid at his construction job, he and Harry are the only ones on the site not wearing hardhats or safety goggles.
  • Hey, Catch!: Quaid tries to slip onto Mars undetected by disguising himself in an animatronic suit. When his cover is blown, he takes off the mask and tosses it to his pursuers, upon which it cracks wise and then explodes.

    Fat Lady Mask: Get ready for a surprise! (Cue explosion)

  • Hidden Weapons: Lori has a knife holstered to her lower leg which she is about to use on Melina before Quaid shoots it out of her hand.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: "I never wanted this. I wanted Hauser back. But no. You had to be Quaid!"
  • Hologram: Lori's tennis teaching simulation and a wrist device that creates a false image of its wearer.
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection:
    • While Lori is practicing with a hologram designed to teach proper tennis serves, the hologram blurs a couple of times. It is a loop video of a person going through the motions, the blurs are when the image resets to the start of the loop.
    • The wrist device that creates a hologram decoy of its wearer.
      • When Quaid tests it while on Earth, his image breaks up into static.
      • When Quaid uses it on Mars to trick Cohaagen's troops, his image flickers after the trick is revealed.
      • When Melina uses it, her hologram breaks up when Cohaagen's troops fire into it.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: When Melina isn't fighting to liberate Mars, she works as a prostitute. Most of the Last Resort's professional personnel seems to count as well, actually. Though it's not quite clear whether Melina really does this work, or just uses it as a cover to meet with resistance agents without arousing suspicions.
  • Humiliation Conga: The movie is this from Richter's perspective.
    • First, his wife Lori gets assigned as wife to a traitor agent, and he knows that she's sleeping with him to maintain the cover. Then he finds out that said traitor has broken his cover, killed several of his teammates, and beaten up his wife. Richter is understandably a bit vengeful.
    • However, his efforts get frustrated as Quaid escapes repeatedly. His partner, Helm, points out to Richter that his wife probably enjoyed weeks of sex in what is basically a legal form of adultery.
    • Then Richter gets a call from Cohaagen, who belittles his intellect and forbids him from eliminating the Traitor/Wifebeater.
    • Then Quaid escapes again with an annoying rat trick.
    • Next at Mars, Quaid escapes and Richter gets told again he cannot pursue him.
    • Then Cohaagen chews Richter out for trying to think independently.
    • Next they try a capture again, but this time Quaid graduates from a Wifebeater to a Wifekiller.
    • Immediately afterwards, Helm prevents him from exacting revenge.
    • Then Quaid leads Richter to Venusville, where a firefight starts. And worse yet, Helm gets killed. Then Cohaagen orders him to back off again. The only upside is that this time, the Resistance is destroyed and Quaid gets captured after all.
    • Richter is finally going to exact some justice upon Lori's killer, but... gotcha! It turns out that Hauser's defection was planned all along.
    • Cohaagen gets really cozy with Quaid and reveals that Hauser and Cohaagen are good friends. Meanwhile, Richter has nothing: his teammates, his wife and his best friend are all dead thanks to Quaid, who will get to live in a mansion, drive a Mercedes, and boink his new girlfriend Melina every night. As a final insult, Quaid will probably become Richter's superior from now on.
    • In fact, for all Richter knows, Hauser may have set up the cover story with Lori as Quaid's wife specifically to have someone to boink. If that is the case, Cohaagen probably knew about it all along, too. The ambush that got Lori killed was part of the plan!
    • The only consolation Richter gets is a free punch on Quaid in the Recall chair. But even this moment of joyful payback is fleeting, as Quaid once again escapes and heads off to activate the alien machine in the Pyramid mines, an act which for all Richter knows could cause the very destruction of Mars - but Richter does know that Quaid wouldn't know any more about the alien machine than he does. At this point, then, Quaid can only be a demented, world-wrecking mass murderer in Richter's eyes.
    • Cohaagen finally, finally gives Richter permission to kill Quaid. However, this long-awaited confrontation doesn't go well. Quaid and Melina manage to gun down Richter's goons, and then Quaid chases him to the elevator. In the final fight, Quaid beats Richter up, severs his arms, and drops him down to his death. Richter's life ends, and his last thoughts are probably about how Mars is doomed.
    • For Richter's poor sake, the movie had better be Quaid's Rekall dream.
  • Identity Amnesia: Hauser erased any memory of himself and others as part of his Memory Gambit to become Quaid. This creates problems when he meets his girlfriend Melina.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: Cohaagen gives a version of this as he berates Richter:

    Cohaagen: First you try to kill Quaid, then you let him get away!
    Richter: He had help from our side, sir.
    Cohaagen: I know that.
    Richter: But I thought...
    Cohaagen: Who told you to think? I don't give you enough information to think! You do what you're told. That's what you do!

  • I Have a Family: Benny the cab driver has five kids to feed, and likes to bring it up to potential fares. Or was it four?

    Benny: (after betraying Quaid and Melina) Aw, shit, man. You got me. I ain't even married.

  • Imminent Danger Clue: Quaid realizes Lori and Dr. Edgemar are lying when he sees a drop of nervous sweat on the doctor's brow. If it was all a simulation and Edgemar was never in any danger, why is he so scared? So Quaid kills him.
  • Indecisive Parody: Fully intentional. Are all the outrageous violations of physics, plot-convenient coincidences and implausible combat victories Quaid achieves merely standard action movie operating procedure, or are they all further evidence that this is all just part of Quaid's Rekall memories? You decide!
  • Indy Hat Roll: Quaid, right after arriving on Mars, to escape enemy pursuit.
  • In Working Order: The switch that activates the alien device.
  • Ironic Echo: Richter gives Quaid a mocking "See you at the party" as the latter is about to be brainwashed back into Hauser. Quaid later repeats it after killing him.
  • Irony: Quaid is given the idea to visit Rekall by seeing a commercial about their services, saying it's a safe, economical alternative to interplanetary travel. Later after everything goes to hell thanks to him going to Rekall, he sees a commercial touting how phony and experimental memory tampering is and asking the viewer to choose space flight as the reliable alternative.
  • It's a Small World, After All: Mars has one red light district (Venusville), and is arranged into sectors that number enough to be designated letters of the alphabet. Since we don't know how much of Mars was colonized, it's possible that the human population there all lives in the same city.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Quaid's enmity with Richter is much more vicious than the one with his boss Cohaagen. This is because Richter's wife had to pretend to be Quaid's wife for a while so they could spy on him, and she later dies by Quaid's hands. He's therefore far more willing to resort to deadly force than Cohaagen, who wants to keep Quaid alive for his plans to infiltrate the Martian resistance.
  • I Warned You: After being constantly browbeaten by Cohaagen for trying to kill Quaid rather than following the plan through, Richter very smugly demands his boss' next approach when it fails and Quaid escapes, leaving him on the brink of losing power.

    Richter: You're going to have to make a decision, sir.
    Cohaagen: (reluctant) Kill him.
    Richter: About goddamn time!

  • Kirk's Rock: The opening shot shows the formation among the rocks of Mars.
  • Kubrick Stare: Right after Richter gives Quaid a stiff punch and asks the doctor if he'd remember it. He did.
  • La Résistance: Kuato's mutant Martian rebels.
  • Large Ham: Benny, especially after he reveals himself to be a villain.

    Benny: Hey, Quaid! You remember me?! BENNY! BENNY'S THE NAME!

  • Laser-Guided Karma: Cohaagen turns off the air supply for Venusville and later kicks over a fish tank, callously leaving both to die from suffocation. He later dies himself the same way, suffocating in the thin atmosphere of Mars.
  • Latex Perfection: A variation, when Quaid wears a middle-aged woman head while sneaking into airport security. That's somehow both fully animatronic and has a self-destruct function.
  • Leave No Survivors: When Richter and his men pursue Quaid and Melina into the mutant district, they escape and Richter shoots the first person who refuses to answer him. When they retaliate, he orders the soldiers to kill everyone and barely escapes from the ensuing slaughter himself.
  • Let's Get Out of Here:
    • Line said by Benny when a shootout ensues on a market square at the Mars station.
    • Also said by Melina after she and Quaid escaped lobotomy.
  • Lobotomy: Quaid is told by one of his co-workers it is what nearly happened to a friend of his when he went to Rekall. Later in the movie, Quaid is told by Dr. Edgemar that he is hallucinating the adventure in his brain and that if he doesn't exit it, he will be lobotomized. It's left ambiguous as to whether Edgemar was lying or whether Quaid was indeed lobotomized. note 
  • Locked Out of the Loop: When Cohaagen reveals Hauser was working for him all along, Quaid just scoffs and points to Richter of "this idiot has been trying to kill me. You don't kill someone you're trying to plant." Cohaagen scoffs that Richter didn't know anything about it and his going "hog wild" nearly ruined the entire plan. Through it all, Richter's expression makes it clear: he's as amazed as Quaid to learn all this.
  • Lockdown: Happens twice. Once when Quaid arrives on Mars and later when Cohaagen locks down a sector which has disobeyed him:

    Technician: Sir, the oxygen level is bottoming out in Sector G. What do you want me to do about it?
    Cohaagen: [as if obvious] Don't do anything.
    Technician: But they won't last an hour, sir.
    Cohaagen: Fuck 'em. It'll be a good lesson to the others.

  • Look Behind You: How the hologram wrist device is used.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Rekall has one, and will plug you in for a modest fee. Quaid may have been in it for most of the movie.
  • Made of Explodium: "Johnny Cab," an electric golf cart, can withstand dozens of bullets, but stiff it on a fare and it explodes like a grenade.
  • Made of Plasticine: Richter gets his arms not simply broken but cleanly sliced off when trapped between a blunt not-at-all-sharp rock face and a slow-moving service elevator.
  • Make an Example of Them: The reason Cohaagen gives for letting the mutants in Venusville die of asphyxiation after their uprising.

    Cohaagen: Fuck 'em. They'll be a lesson to the others.

  • Marrying the Mark: After he remembers part of his old identity, Quaid discovers that his entire marriage is a sham when his wife Lori tries to kill him. She is really part of a unit sent by the Martian governor to spy on him, and is already married to the governor's top enforcer, Richter, who despises Quaid because of this.
  • Manchurian Agent: Quaid. He's unknowingly manipulated by Hauser and Cohaagen to lead them to Kuato.
  • Memory Gambit: Hauser wiped his memories and rebuilt his personality as Quaid, in order to make it easier to infiltrate the resistance. Unfortunately for Hauser and Cohaagen, Quaid experiences severe Amnesiac Dissonance upon finding out the truth, and decides that he would rather remain Quaid and do whatever he can to derail Cohaagen's plan.
  • Memory Wipe Exploitation: Quaid has spent the entire film with (possibly) false memories, and in constant conflict with Richter. When he's finally caught, he's about to have his previous memories restored, and return to being Richter's ally.

    Richter: Excuse me, Doctor. Is he gonna remember any of this?
    Doctor: Not a thing.
    Richter: Oh, really? [punches Quaid in the face]

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