Retro Review: Sixth Day

While swimming in box office limbo for the better part of six years (his first semi-retirement), Arnold Schwarzenegger enlists his duplicate to help him regain his box office muscle in the new science fiction action film, “The Sixth Day”. Will two Arnie’s bring the action king back to the top of the heap? To put it blunt, the Sixth Day is a great start.

“The Sixth Day” transports us to 2020 where the science of cloning has been introduced to mainstream society. Just bring your dying pet to “Re-Pet” and have him cloned so that he can continue to live with you. This new society dictates that the cloning of humans is to complex and that it is illegal if tried.

You may be asking how does our muscle-laden Austrian fit into this society. Arnold’s character runs a charter service that brings skiers atop the nearest mountain for extreme skiing. One of Arnie’s clients is a multi-billionaire (Tony Goldwyn) who is trying to get the public to accept the cloning of organs and other human characteristics.

One day Arnie decides to skip out on a charter and celebrate his birthday with his family. As he gets to the door he is completely baffled when he hears the “Birthday Song” coming from his home. He stops and pears in the window and to his shock he sees himself already encompassed in the birthday festivities. How could this be since he is standing on the porch?

As he is about to burst in and tackle this imposter, two figures step out of the shadows. One of the figures is a lady and she says, “You must come with us. A “sixth day” violation has been committed. A human was cloned.” Who are these people, what the hell happened to Arnie’s life and how can there be two of him?

As I sat and watched the “Sixth Day” I was reminded of the action films that Arnold made in the late eighties and early nineties. Films like “Predator”, “Total Recall”, “Terminator 2” and “True Lies” were staples of his multi-billion dollar career.

Action films that had edge and substance. Films that allowed the audience to relate to the central character who was always in a situation he couldn’t control. These films were the staples in Arnie’s career and they were the reason why we wanted to see him time and time again.

Another common thread in Arnold’s successful movies was his teaming with great action directors like James Cameron, Peter Verhoeven and John McTiernan. What is great about the “Sixth Day” is the fact that all these elements come into play. The Sixth Day is helmed by Tomorrow Never Dies’ director Roger Spottiswoode who seems to get better with every action film he makes.

The adrenaline and intrigue that was an Arnie staple for so long seem to leave a lot of his films when he started making the comedy films. In the Sixth Day we have that along with the debate of cloning. As the story and mystery unfolds you do find yourself thinking a lot about the whole element of cloning. I liked the fact that a film like this could challenge the audience with that kind of dilemma. I also have to commend Arnold for going back to what he as always done best, the action film.

What I was happy to see about this action film was that there was no “Matrix” or “John Woo” element in the fight scenes. After “Charlie’s Angels” and “Mission Impossible 2”, I was getting a little tired of the slow-motion camera. It was just nice to see a fist actually connect and a gun actually blast.

The small problems I had with the “Sixth Day” laid mainly in the interrogation scenes where the music was trying to add tension but I just wished I had a mute button. Others flaws may include the weak characters played by Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, and Michael Rapaport. I mean these poor actors seem to play the same roles every film.

I liked how Duvall started his research because of his dying wife but why didn’t they expand on it more. You also have Goldwyn who always seems to play an ego-maniac jerk (remember him in Ghost?). This poor actor is still living that down. Then you have Rapaport who seems to be condemned to play every actor’s dim-witted side-kick. Just would have liked to have seen more.

In conclusion, I would have to say I enjoyed “The Sixth Day” as much or slightly more than Arnie’s last good action movie “Eraser”. Welcome back Arnie and keep those action films coming.

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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