by Greg Muskewitz
No matter what anyone else says, I've always been an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, and the majority of the time, his action movies are the best of the lot. However, "End of Days" came up somewhat short for my taste, though I'd like to think that the everyman out there can still enjoy his adrenaline and macho romp. It's not that there weren't good things about the film, but the hero's been missing in action too long since "Eraser."There was a lot of "End of Days" which just wasn't very conducive; the normality in which the blood should have been flowing was blocked. Things seemed out of place, or just didn't work at all. Plainly, I was disappointed.
"Just the average everyman macho movie"
Take the story, for instance. Schwarzenegger works for some sort of bodyguard company. After the first few minutes of the film, we see him sitting in the depths of his dark apartment looking very sweaty and holding a gun to his head. Within a minute, his partner and friend, Kevin Pollack I think, bursts in the door, and there's a quick bonding ceremony where Jericho (that's Arnie's character's name, but usually he is just referred to as Jer) makes a smoothie of coffee, eggs, Chinese food, pizza from the floor, and a few other things which he picks up from the counter.
On the job, they're bringing a Wall Street bigwig from point a to point b. He is played by Gabriel Byrne, and the body of "the man" is being used by Satan as a host. He's shot at, and the assassin is chased by Jer (by helicopter, by foot), and eventually they find out that this guy is a priest. With his tongue cut out.
Suddenly, Jer has an interest in what's going on; following the path he did in his old days as a cop, before his wife and daughter were killed, he starts to investigate the case. What we find out is that a specific girl, whose birth we witnessed at the very beginning of the film (20 years prior), whose name is Christine York (CHRIST in YORK --heh heh...no!). She's intended to be "f*cked" by Satan, and, being the bearer of his child, will help end the world as we know it [insert lyrics here from REM]. Of course, Satan must find her, and do her, and Jer must find her as well.
A lot of the movie just didn't seem right. It was muddled, but sometimes I felt like I was over-scrutinizing the film. So afterwards, I went home and popped "Eraser" into the VCR to see it for the umpteenth time. Yeah, there were some plot holes and all, but nothing that had me in constant disbelief.
I think the biggest problem here was the script. It was so layman in terms; a lot of the dialogue seemed dumbed down to try and fit the level of its audience --and it undershot itself. During this year we've had a slew of ghost films, starting with "The Sixth Sense," "Stir of Echoes," and more of a haunting/possesion S movie, "Stigmata." "Stigmata" went into a religious conspiracy dissection, which I liked, and then there was the Catholic-protested "Dogma," which also waged the battle between God and Satan (well, not really Satan, but some of his disciples). Both "Stigmata" and "Dogma" worked in there repective genres much better than "End of Days" because those films were well proportioned. They knew what they were talking about, and used at least falsified evidence to back it up. I kept waiting for Alanis Morissette to show up and slap the Hell out of Byrne.
Arnold looked like he was in the back seat for this one. There were times during the movie where he had to shout obscenities, mostly "f*ck," and it didn't sound like something he would say. He didn't look too happy about saying them either. The beatings that his character took were well beyond the suspension of our disbelief. He was in Terminator-mode, and no matter how bad he was beat, sliced, pounded, knocked out of windows, shot at, etc., he kept on going. When I read that in the end he was going to choose faith over his 9mm Glock, I thought it would have been a real show of faith. But he just stands there, gets whooped, and then when Satan enters him, he must fight him internally to make sure Christine (Robin Tunney) can get away.
Director Peter Hyams's last film, "The Relic," was a much more intense, scary, and actioned movie. I give him credit here for trying to follow through with his vision, but there were too many plot crises to get in the way of it. There were areas which worked perfectly, but there were so many others which were just clogged.
Robin Tunney, as much as I love the name Robin, is not up to par with the movie. She doesn't fit, her acting is usually not adequate, and the way her character was written made her often just unlikable. I think one of her "The Craft" alumni, Neve Campbell, could have made something else altogether out of the role.
The special effects were pretty cool, and the movie's action *was* good, but its surroundings reeked, and that sucks because I really would have liked to like the movie. But the script just has no idea where it's going, and when it gets in a rut, it depends on blasting its way out. And its handling of religious issues were so bleak and not there, it wasn't funny.Final Verdict: C+
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=798&reviewer=172
originally posted: 11/24/99 03:40:21