Schwarzenegger and myself parted company after I forked out for a cinema ticket to see End of Days (1999). Apart from a brief reunion for Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines (2003) I missed all his output after that stinker of a film. How could a man who had been in such iconic films such as Total Recall, the Terminator franchise and Predator have sunk so low?
I had therefore missed The 6th Day up until now - and if I thought End of Days was bad, well - The Governator obviously felt that he hadn't sullied our cinema screens quite enough. So he agreed to perform in this quite ridiculous action thriller.
The plot, such as it is, is very heavily borrowed from Total Recall. The Austrian Oak plays family man Adam Gibson. Gibson lives in an unspecified time in the future, where cloning is an accepted (and almost perfected) technology. Family pets can be cloned so that when they die, you can merely call them back to life. Unfortunately, due to the technology being not exactly 100% safe (some earlier trials on humans were unsuccessful), it is illegal to clone people.
Therefore, Gibson is rather surprised one day to come home and find that he is already there! He has been cloned, you see, for reasons that he doesn't understand. Added to this is the small inconvenience that there are a group of assassins who want to kill him. He has to avoid these assassins whilst getting to the bottom of who cloned him and why.
This plot is the first serious thing wrong with this movie. It sounds like it has merely lifted pieces of from Schwarzenegger's other hit movies and put them together in an obvious attempt to manufacture a hit film. Cinema can, at times, be a cynical medium - and this is the perfect example of what can happen when the lust for a hit can overtake creative concerns.
The plot is not the only thing wrong here though. Even the characters and situations inside the movie, for example, are merely clones themselves - of what has gone before. An example of this is the “re-pet” dolls. Horrible creations that are supposed to be advanced robotic dolls for children. They do admittedly look realistic, but the fact is that they come across as a cross between Chucky, and the cab driver in Total Recall. They have been put in there because they do look cool. But they are completely unoriginal. And as such they are the perfect metaphor for the film itself.
Surely, though, the great man himself can introduce some redeeming features into this film? Sadly, Schwarzenegger has the look of a man who really cannot believe that he has ended up in a film such as this. He moves through the action like an automaton, never truly inhabiting his character or emoting in any shape or form. Like True Lies he is given a comic foil, but unlike Tom Arnold in that movie, Michael Rappaport never manages to build any kind of chemistry with the lead, and ends up being merely annoying.
The 6th Day is a perfect example of just why Schwarzenegger moving into politics was such a well-timed and considered move. Unlike Stallone who seemed able to move beyond his franchise movies (Copland) or was able to accept his characters had grown old and move with the times (the recent Rocky and Rambo movies), Schwarzenegger had already run out of cinematic gas by the time of this film. He was never going to recapture his previous glory with cynical, manufactured tat like this.
Normally, with a film like this there would at least be a few moderately exciting action scenes to engage the adrenaline, but sadly this is not the case here - mainly due to the director's rather bizarre approach to the film. Roger Spottiswoode directs with a pedestrian style which just doesn't seem to suit the film at all. Camera angles are obvious and uninspired, and there is nothing out of the ordinary at all in the way he approaches the material. There is nothing spectacular in the design of the film, and the action sequences merely plod along in an unsatisfactory manner.
Sadly there is really nothing to recommend in this film. In an overcrowded genre, a film has to be very special to be worthy of a watch. This poor effort shows a complete lack of ambition, style, substance, and excitement.
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