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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.13%
Worth A Look: 26.88%
Pretty Bad: 28.13%
Total Crap: 11.25%

15 reviews, 70 user ratings

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6th Day, The
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by Andrew Howe

"Dear Arnie: Now that you're back, can you please go away again?"
2 stars

When Joe Average hits an extended losing streak on the Vegas crap tables, the odds are good that he’ll learn more than he ever wanted to know about the fine art of panhandling. When Arnold Schwarzenegger hits a 6-year losing streak at the local cinema, the odds are even better that he’ll find himself laughing all the way to the bank. This is known as injustice, and the most unfortunate aspect of this little charade is that it is conducted at the expense of every long-time fan who has never given up hope that the Age of Arnie may one day come again.

On the evidence at hand, we might be waiting a long time. The 6th Day is not as execrable as True Lies or End of Days, but it’s certainly no better than Eraser, and that is by no means a compliment. The glory days of Total Recall and Last Action Hero are but a distant memory, leaving us with this half-baked exercise in tedium which, were it not for the presence of Schwazenegger and a hefty budget, would doubtless have been a candidate for a straight-to-video release.

The repercussions of cloning have been explored by a number of fine novels and short stories, most notably John Varley’s Steel Beach and Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (and I might add that, were the ideas not effectively in the public domain, Varley would have a reasonable basis for a plagiarism suit). A man may well be the sum of his memories, but anyone who subscribes to the notion of a higher consciousness might suggest that a clone is nothing more than a soulless facsimile, bereft of the spark that makes us human. It’s an intriguing concept, and the fact that The 6th Day allocates precious little screen-time to exploring the issue is excusable, since philosophical insight is rarely a prerequisite for an entertaining action flick. What is less excusable is that it wastes the premise on a film packed with enervating action sequences and inexplicable scripting decisions, leaving us to wonder, once again, how the people who green-light these efforts were deemed worthy of assuming their positions in the first place.

The perpetrators of this particular crime are Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, and should those names be met with a blank stare it’s because, prior to The 6th Day, they had scripted only two films, neither of which anybody has ever heard of. Why a team which lacked a proven track record in the genre was chosen to script a multi-million dollar blockbuster is beyond me, though to be fair everyone who can write science-fiction is usually doing it on the printed page.

The film is set in a future in which cloning has been driven underground as a result of public opposition, opening the way for the rich and powerful to exploit our fear of the grave. The less-than-heroically named Adam Gibson (Schwarzenegger) is mistakenly cloned by a covert operation, and spends the rest of the film shortening the life-spans of a gaggle of goons intent on removing him from the picture before he blows their cover.

The premise is sound, but in addition to ignoring the dramatic potential inherent in the concept (not that Schwarzenegger could have convincingly provided the required weight, even if it was present) the scriptwriters take it upon themselves to play with action film conventions just enough to ruin whatever chance the film had of becoming an acceptable time-waster.

The film’s major flaw is that not only are the ostensible villains more interesting than the hero, they commit precious few acts of villainy (the most affecting murder is actually perpetrated by someone outside the group) and, to make matters worse, their views are not entirely without merit. This could be seen as a reason to praise the film, and it certainly makes a refreshing change from cardboard villains and black-and-white issues. However, we’ve already determined that the film doesn’t qualify as a thought-provoking drama, and these half-hearted stabs at something a little different undermine its status as an action flick, leaving us with a patchwork effort that tries to be both and winds up succeeding at neither.

The fact that the hero is outshone by the villains is not of itself a major problem, and is a feature of many a fine action film (check out Mad Max 2 and Die Hard if you don’t believe me). However, the evildoers in The 6th Day actually verge on the likeable (the ineptitude of the chief goon, memorably portrayed by Michael Rooker, is particularly disarming), and the fact that they don’t commit any overtly evil acts ensures the viewer is never rooting for their demise (and it wouldn’t matter if we were, since their access to cloning technology enables them to rebound from all manner of unpleasant fates). Furthermore, Drucker (Tony Goldwyn, who bears a passing resemblance to a young Jeff Goldblum), the leader of this pack of bumblers, actually seems to have a point – he may be on a power-trip, but his desire to conquer the spectre of death is something we can all identify with, and his measured, thoughtful arguments are persuasive. This effectively makes Gibson the equivalent of someone intent on destroying something he can’t understand (the fact that he’s trying to save the life of his family is neither here nor there), to the extent that, by the end of the film, I found myself cheering for the opposition.

Robbed of a traditional hero/villain structure to provide the requisite thrills, the beleaguered viewer turns to the action sequences for solace. Director Roger Spotiswoode has some credibility in the field, since his resume contains Tomorrow Never Dies and several low-budget actioners. Unfortunately for us, the best set-pieces he can devise are a car chase which will have you wishing you were watching Ronin and several garden-variety shoot-out’s. The latter are hampered further by the film’s insistence on using laser pistols, which lack the gut-punch impact of traditional weaponry (Paul Verhoeven and James Cameron understand this, which is why the high-tech weapons in Starship Troopers and Aliens pack the same aural and physical wallop as modern-day machine guns). Finally, the PG rating rears its ugly head once again, so anyone expecting gloriously over-the-top violence in the vein of Total Recall is advised to look elsewhere.

All of this being said, the film is not a complete failure. The acting is actually of a reasonable calibre (Robert Duvall was evidently in need of some ready cash, and being the professional that he is refuses to turn in a dismissive performance), and while Arnie is rather subdued (if the role was written with him in mind, it isn’t apparent from the finished product) he’s still as likeable as ever. Unfortunately, the Wibberleys’ cut-and-paste approach to scriptwriting scuttles any chance it had of rising above the everyday, and leaves us with a mildly-diverting effort that certainly wasn’t worth the price tag.

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originally posted: 03/13/01 19:21:05
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good imho 4 stars
4/08/16 David Hollingsworth Too derivative, even for Arnold. 2 stars
7/08/14 Kat Could have been good. Wanted to like it. Sadly, it was both boring and terribly written. 2 stars
8/01/11 Chris F not one of Arnies best films 3 stars
12/22/06 David Pollastrini must have sucked. I saw it but have no memory of it 1 stars
8/18/05 ES better than Total retard, I liked the way the villains kept coming back from the dead 4 stars
7/03/05 Quigley had some clever ideas, but it becomes a really forgettable film. watch T2, not this 3 stars
6/02/05 Chris Are you who you think you are? 1 stars
3/31/05 hannaho Just another Arnold film. 3 stars
3/05/05 Gloria Anderson love this movie 4 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung one of arnie's worst films 2 stars
2/28/05 Diane Stedner It wasn't so bad but wasn't so good either 3 stars
2/23/05 ALDO one of arnie's worse films...disappointing!!!! 2 stars
8/23/04 R.W. Welch Plot line is too far out to be very involving. Some snazzy F/X. 3 stars
6/09/04 Nobody I'm glad arnie went into politics, now he can't make any more crappy movies like this 1 stars
4/17/04 ALBERT H. TAYLOR JR. Not Arnold's better films! 3 stars
4/09/04 y2mckay One of Arnie's most brain-dead actioners - rent "Total Recall" . Sarah Wynter hot, though. 2 stars
4/09/04 Jack Sommersby Uninteresting, unexciting, and unmemorable. A real waste of fucking time. 1 stars
2/21/04 Stefan Halka The worst action I have ever seen in any A-level movie. 3 stars
1/29/04 stuntman A good idea ruined by poor writers 2 stars
7/01/03 Frank Lynch Decent flick 4 stars
4/20/03 Pratim Guha Biswas IT was really a waste of time which u would not normally expect from a Arnie Movie 2 stars
4/18/03 Matt Thiel An action film that tries to tell a story; but there are better examples than this. 3 stars
10/29/02 Jay Is this movie bad? No fucking way! Arnie at his best! 5 stars
8/02/02 Zefram Mann That Sim-Pal was so friggin' evil looking. 3 stars
5/26/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi when i told u to go screw urself i didnt mean it literally 3 stars
3/29/02 Evan The Critic An attempt to go back to the 'Total Recall' sci-fi action, and it hit on target! Must see! 4 stars
3/15/02 Zargo underrated 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Interesting premise. Not very exciting. 3 stars
11/29/01 The $1.98 Pyramid I had high expectations about this movie, and so I was disapointed. 2 stars
10/31/01 Connoisseur nice entertaining movie, quit carping! 4 stars
8/08/01 Mr. Hat Lots of fun for the first hour and a half. 4 stars
6/11/01 I love movies this movie absolutely rocked the world! Arnold's best in years but his acting hasn't improv 5 stars
5/13/01 Pete Wrigley just bad 1 stars
5/09/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Christ... 2 stars
5/08/01 Monday Morning Kind of a cross between "Total Recall" and "Twins". Fun futuristic appliances too. 4 stars
5/07/01 saleh sientific 4 stars
4/16/01 The Bomb 69 interesting look at the possibilities of cloning and the potential downfalls 4 stars
4/13/01 DREDD really bad plot, must have been really big hard drives to store all those memorys 2 stars
4/11/01 Del R One of me says he liked it, the other one says he didn't 3 stars
4/11/01 Jesse L Most boring Arnie movie ever made. Thin thin plot. 2 stars
4/11/01 Spetters Arnold sucks!!! He should make a Movie with Cameron again. 1 stars
3/30/01 The Reviewer it is better than last action hero, end of days, but not as good as total recall. 4 stars
2/04/01 Avenger girl Not to bad a movie,lots of action,but Arnie movies need some new insights. 3 stars
1/26/01 Sickofshitfilms comes a close second just after 'Battlefield Earth' 2 stars
1/26/01 Diego Romero Preet good movie,believe me,Arnie will return with T3 and true lies 2 5 stars
1/17/01 The Terminator As a fan of Schwarzenegger, I enjoyed this movie 4 stars
1/15/01 Action freak Good movie, should have been a huge hit, but people don't seem to like Schwarzenegger 4 stars
12/31/00 kevin AH im a clone i have two rings under my eyelid, this movie sucked D+ 2 stars
12/21/00 owen thought provoking action flik 4 stars
12/12/00 MAXOMENOS Good premise, boring execution. Could be the last gasp of the typical Arnold flick. 2 stars
12/05/00 Charlie.X "Did you get the info, !!Arnie,!! my soul wants 2, know, du plane will land, its gonu blow. 4 stars
11/26/00 FlickChick Kinda like Total Recall meets Demo Man meets 5th Element. Fills the flick need. 4 stars
11/25/00 Blubberbot Some good parts. Some bad parts. Some exciting parts. Some boring parts. 3 stars
11/25/00 FELaPorta Great Fun - my kids and I loved it! 4 stars
11/25/00 TigerShark Could've been so much better than it was. Ah-nold was good, but the plot was stupid. Rental 2 stars
11/24/00 KoHawk I guess it was okay... Damn those lasers ruined it, though 3 stars
11/23/00 Florida Voter 2 Too close to call.........lets recount!!! 4 stars
11/22/00 Greyjack An all right movie. Not blow-you-out-of-your-seat great, but a good matinee flick. 4 stars
11/21/00 Wyatt Earp Better than I expected. Nice FXs. Acting wasn't painful 4 stars
11/20/00 Stuntman not as bad as Red Planet, but worth watching 3 stars
11/20/00 TheRock Much better than M2M and Red Planet...not in Total Recall's class though 4 stars
11/19/00 frankko it's no COMMANDO. 3 stars
11/19/00 Will it was good simple fun. 4 stars
11/19/00 Brandon Bickford not bad when arnie isn't talking 4 stars
11/19/00 Bruce Has it's problems but it is entertianing. 4 stars
11/19/00 FLORIDA VOTER This movie was great! I disagree with the reviewer, this movie is 5 stars, A++ 5 stars
11/18/00 Eve Crisp visuals, some neat twists, and Arnold is always a reliable source of fun and heroism 5 stars
11/18/00 artifact great special effects, but missing a strong storyline 3 stars
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  17-Nov-2000 (PG-13)


  18-Jan-2001 (M)

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