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Total Recall is the film that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger?s career as an action star. It is also one of his best films ever, with a detailed plotline and a lavish attention to detail on AR and VR concepts ? all of which are physically possible, and being actively pursued today.

The film opens on Douglas Houser, a construction worker on Earth in the not so distant future, dreaming about Mars.

The film features great leaps in augmented reality technology, all of which either actually exists in limited form, or is being actively pursued as net technology at this time ? at no point does the film stray from the science-possible, to the whimsical science-fiction. Considering just how many AR and VR devices they feature, and the age of the film ? 1990 ? this is an astounding achievement.

The devices include window-walls that function as TV screens ? watch the news one minute, then change the channel and have a window out on a mountain lake.

Train station and airport checkpoints are marked by augmented reality, with huge displays that line the corridors, showing X-ray visions of people and objects as they walk through ? bones in blue, guns, and gun shaped objects in flashing red.

At one point, the film showcases a jump in makeup which is being worked on in actual life now ? nail varnish that can be reapplied just by choosing a colour on a computer screen, then touching the nails with a computer stylus and having them change instantly to that colour, one by one.

JohnnyCabs feature throughout ? robot-controlled taxis. They drive themselves around, sharing the streets with ordinary cars, converse with the passengers ? in a limited-AI sort of way, and generally act as cabbies without a cabby present.

However, it?s the virtual reality systems the film suggests that are the real attention grabber ? Recall Incorporated offers ?The memory of a lifetime?. Literally, a direct brain-machine interface which implants the memories of a falsified environment directly into the cortex.

As a film, Total Recall stands out far more than most of Schwarzenegger?s later work, as a film with depth of plot, even though it excels on violence too. This film offers a practical, realistic look at some of the technologies underway at the moment, along with darker undertones of social unrest.


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