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6th Day, The

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 02/27/05 17:15:43

"Hasta la vista, intelligent storytelling."
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

Well, punch me in the balls and call me Betty, Schwarzenegger’s got another sci-fi movie. Arnold’s never seemed to be the type of guy who’d want to do all of these sci-fi flicks (can you picture him at a Trek convention?), yet that’s his bread and butter, the style we all wish he’d go back to whenever he puts out one of his “comedies.”

His latest trip into sci-fi is a clunker called “The 6th Day.” In it, Arnold plays another one of his recent “regular guy” characters, and while it’s always a major stretch to buy him as an Austrian-accented muscle-crazy ad exec father of two, at least this time he’s a charter pilot specializing in escorting extreme sports types. It’s the “near future” (“sooner than you think,” the subtitle warns us), and human cloning, while outlawed, is a possibility. It’s so possible that Arnold himself has been cloned - without his knowledge. Well, pretty soon the bad guys learn that, as Arnold says, they cloned the wrong man. Nobody gives him a raw deal. He’ll be back. Hasta la vista, baby. Gotcha, suckas!

What we have here is a minor rip-off of the far superior Schwarzenegger flick “Total Recall.” The similarities are cute at first, grating after a while: Arnold’s an everyday guy (construction worker/pilot) living in the future. A corporation is offering a controversial service (false memory implantation/pet cloning) to which our man decides to check out. Soon he finds himself battling the baddies while several factors in the script attempt to create confusion (Is it all just a dream?/Is our Arnold really the clone Arnold?).

What “6th Day” lacks is “Recall”’s freshness and inventiveness. “Recall” told a story that, while being incredibly silly, was both fun and intriguing, giving us a movie that works whether your brain is on or off at the moment. It did what sci-fi does best: creating a brand new world in which we could lose ourselves, all the while producing enough intelligent material to generate more than a few discussions afterward.

The world of “6th Day” is not very interesting, and all of the concepts it tries to present fall pretty flat. So since it’s not a very smart sci-fi film, we then hope for a fun sci-fi film. There’s nothing wrong with good old-fashioned dumb fun, as long as it works. But even that fails - there’s not much fun here, with most of the action scenes unable to excite or thrill. The special effects aren’t really that special, with some of the shots crying out, “we did this in five minutes!” Even Arnold’s signature stupid one-liners are mercilessly stupid (as is the rest of the dialogue). I found myself laughing far more often than the producers probably planned, and not at the jokes, if you catch my drift.

The movie’s saving grace comes in the forms of Robert Duvall and Tony Goldwyn. Duvall’s always committed to his work, no matter how stupid, and the result is his usual fine acting. His talents are wasted here, although his appearance gives the audience a break from the crap outside his scenes. Goldwyn, on the other hand, takes the “I know I’m in a crappy film” approach, hamming it up as Arnold’s nemesis. Unlike the others in the cast, he seems to understand that a film this lame deserves a less serious effort, and his glee in the midst of all the stupidity certainly helps.

I’m not upset that this wasn’t a deep, “serious” examination of cloning issues. While that would have been nice, a good meaningless adventure yarn would have been just as good. But we don’t get that at all. “The 6th Day” is not dumb fun; it’s just dumb.

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