The main character works in a manual labor job, feels dissatisfied with life and goes to the shop to have an exciting time; but ends up killing all the people there, expertly. He then goes home to his wife, only to find out that she is only pretending to be his wife to monitor him. His previous life memories had been erased.

  • 9
    This sounds like Total Recall, for which there are a lot of questions on the site already. I don't know if there are any duplicates for this specific question, though.
    – JAB
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 22:43
  • 10
    This is absolutely Total Recall which was based on "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale", or Total Recall, which was based on Total Recall : \
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 22:46
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/259449/… (which is newer but has an accepted answer)
    – Otis
    Commented Jan 17, 2022 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


The story in question is most likely the 2012 adaption of "Total Recall", which is based off a 1990 movie of the same name, which itself is an adaption of the Philip K. Dick short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale".

All three variations of a differant plot. From what I can tell, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale has a plot involving possible alien invasion. The first Total Recall involves colonization of Mars and a fight over oxygen, while the remake of Total Recall deals with a fight between the two last inhabitable locations on Earth.

Total Recall was released in 1990, and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was remade in 2012, starring Colin Farrell. While both movies specifically feature a scene where the character visits "Rekall", a shop that implants memories of an "exciting time", it is only in the later adaption that the main character ends up killing people, at this facility. In contrast, the original is very similar, but the character escapes without killing anyone.

An excerpt of the plot summary for We Can Remember It For You Wholesale:

Douglas Quail, a simple and ordinary clerk, wishes to visit Mars. Unable to afford it, he visits a company, REKAL (pronounced "recall") Incorporated, which promises to implant an "extra-factual memory" of a trip to Mars as a secret agent. The procedure involves administration of narkidrine, a sedative and truth drug, which causes Quail to remember and reveal that he went to Mars as a secret government agent. His conscious memories of the trip have been erased, but his initial desire to sign up for the trip cannot be removed. The REKAL staff quickly get Quail out of their office without implanting anything, but his real memories slowly return. At home, he finds physical evidence to support his trip but also remembers that he attended REKAL. This conflict causes him to angrily return for a refund, which he is given.
- "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" plot summary @ Wikipedia

A scene from the 1990 film, where the Douglas Quaid visits Rekall and has his episode:

A scene from the 2012 remake, where Douglas Quaid returns home from Rekall, only to find out that his wife was not really his wife:

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    There's an easy way to tell if it was the 1990 version or the 2012 version. Was it any good? If yes, 1990.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 6:11
  • 3
    @Valorum, I surmise it was the new one, as one of the differences in the new one is that Quaid does kill people at Rekall. I actually had to look it up, and edit it into my answer; Having seen the movie, my brain has repressed all memory of the actual plot. You make a good point though. If this is the one you remember, for the love of God, watch the original!
    – Gnemlock
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 6:50
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    @Gnemlock I don't think it so much suppressed all memory of the plot as there was no plot to remember.
    – Tim B
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 12:09
  • 2
    I'd say read the story first. The ending is true PKD material. Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 13:35
  • Not that the first one was a winner either. Did anyone think Arnie was in danger at any time? Its Arnie! And the mutant makeup was terrible. Would have been much better with Dreyfus and a different director. Still, it had its moments. When the tech support guy shows up... I remember going "oh, wow, right!" Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 20:05

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