The 6th Day

View Date: November 18th, 2000

Cast :

Arnold Schwarzenegger .... Adam Gibson
Michael Rapaport .... Hank Morgan
Tony Goldwyn .... Michael Drucker
Michael Rooker .... Robert Marshall
Sarah Wynter (I) .... Talia Elsworth
Wendy Crewson .... Natalie Gibson

Writer: Cormac Wibberley  and Marianne Wibberley 

Director: Roger Spottiswoode

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:31


There is something about an action movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger that makes it stand out from the rest.  The majority of films in this genre are put together for the all of the flash and boom, with the plot existing merely as the framework for the effects.  In order to be successful, these films must contain a reason and purpose for the action, along with a sensible means of holding and transitioning the action sequences.  For the most part, Arnold’s movies have succeeded in doing that by giving us balanced entertainment in the form of a nice combination of an intelligent plot, well-placed humor and of course the necessary sequences which most of us came to see in the first place.  Examples like Eraser, True Lies and The Terminators 1 and 2 should be guidelines that other directors should following when making these kind of movies.  Director Roger Spottiswoode realized this, maybe influenced by Arnold, or maybe just reflective of his judgement, but he has created an entertaining, slightly believeable, minutely clichéd, but nonetheless well made futuristic action film that even for 2 hours, restores faith that movies can be smart, while also being entertaining and fun.

I love movies that can create an alternate world out elements of an existing one.  The world in the 6th Day is described as the “the near future, but closer than you think” and indeed there are examples of where our current technology could take us.  Cars drive themselves, but not completely (just a step beyond a global positioning system currently present in some cars), the news and personal itinerary are available on your mirror (as opposed to your handy Palm Pilot) and your refrigerator tells you when you’re out of milk and lets you reorder it (not quite possible yet, but ordering groceries online is) Cloning became commonplace, then was outlawed when it was abused and an experiment goes horribly wrong. Laws were passed, and in accordance with the biblical quote, any violations were called “6th Day” violations.  As in any society however, there are those who want to profit from it.  A medical and scientific research group, led by Robert DuVall  believes in the positive effects of cloning on the prolonging of society through reproduction and expulsion of that which makes us ill.  One of the interesting issues that the film focuses on, is the battle that would ensue, between religious supporters who believe that cloning is “doing God’s work” and those who feel that it prolongs the human race by eliminating disease and death.  Arnold is cloned, unbeknownst to him at first, and then the movie becomes a chase between the syndicate trying to eliminate him, and the character trying to get his life back and delve deeper into the world that decided to tamper with his.  That is a lot to put on the plot of a film like this, and sometimes the balance becomes a bit precarious when jumping from situation to situation, but the overall story works on a level that is improbable, but not impossible, like the movies plot.  All throughout the film, there are intelligent interactions and situations that would not normally exist in an action movie.  The plot seems to stand alone, with the action sequences coming as natural progressions of the plot, rather than just eye candy to keep our attention, with the story as the filler.  This is the exception rather than the rule and thankfully, this exception works.  The humor works at times, even throwing in some relevant social commentary on violence in film (ironic coming from Arnold’s lips), but as with every director who handles Arnold, Spottiswoode feels the need to throw in the typical one-liners which for the most part, do not work.  The director also mishandles the ultimate encounter between the cloned characters, fumbling a unique chance to let the actor do his thing. For the most part though, Schwarzenegger carries this film, the supporting cast exists as his foils and cohorts, and the whole package comes together quite nicely.

Ultimately, the 6th Day is a refreshing infusion into a genre that was dying a quick and painful death, thanks mostly to movies by Jerry Bruckheimer and company.  The makers figured out that Arnold is a commodity, but he also deserves a better than average script and supporting characters, in order to ultimately succeed.  The key to success in any movie is how well the audience believes in, and relates to its characters and story.  The 6th Day presents us with real people, in a real time not so improbable, and in situations that could truly exist.  Granted, Arnold isn’t your everyman like Bruce Willis or John Cusack, but the way he reacts and deals is.  What would you do if you found out you weren’t who you thought, if someone else lived your life, shared your memories, and experienced your feelings for you.  This is the issue that the movie tackled, and unlike Arnie’s Total Recall, this one doesn’t get so tied up in itself, that it forgets how to have fun and be human.  As a result, the movie never forgets that it is a movie, and it is for entertainment, but not audience insult.  This one may make you think more than you expected, but overall, it will just make you believe in the action/adventure for just a while longer. ($$$ out of $$$$)

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