Total Recall aimed not so much to challenge people's idea of memory and humanity, but rather entertain the possibilities of future technology involving memories. Quaid, played by Arnold, is a construction worker who visits a place called Rekall to have memories implanted in his head. These memories are like a vacation that you never took, but remember like you did. After it seems like the machine fails, Quaid wakes up and believes to be a secret agent from Mars, which was the memory pack he wanted implanted. Immediately after, he returns home and is attacked by his wife, who then explains that he is not who he thinks he is. He runs away, gets handed a briefcase from a stranger, and hides in a building to evade the attackers. He watches a video recording of himself explaining that he really is a secret agent from Mars and that he has to return to finish a mission. He goes to mars and, after a fight with a bunch of dead guys, finds a women named Melina, who's name was in the briefcase earlier. Quaid ends up in the middle of a sort of civil war, in which he learns the big bad guy Cohaagen is preventing a source of clean air from being turned on for all of Mars. After a fight and some more plot twists, Quaid kills Cohaagen and reactivates the oxygen machine, making it possible for the suffocating people in the slums to survive.
Contrary to Bladerunner, people in Total Recall can decide for themselves to have memories implanted. If this were in a real life futuristic society, situations like Quaid's in which the recipient didn't know who he was would probably be pretty rare, unless the person was a memory addict or something. These memories aren't something as profound as an entire childhood or years of someones life. They are only vacations, a privilege for the (probably) upper class. Based on the ridiculous amount of violence in this movie, the over the top acting, and the fact that the implanted memories are of trivial things, it's safe to say that this movie was more interested in the 'what ifs' of future technology rather than starting any kind of serious discussion. Even parts of the movie that could have had some sort of political or environmental message, like the slums and lack of oxygen, are overshadowed by the 80's action movie cliches. That's all this movie is, a fun and absurd action movie with some decent ideas that are never fully explored or realized.