Let me first say that The 6th Day is better than Arnie’s last film End of Days. But, that’s not saying too much since End of Days was so terrible. We are entering in to the era of neo-Arnie a softer and gentler Arnie who makes movies that are no longer rated R, but are rated PG-13. The 6th Day has one huge failing and is rescued by one great idea. More on this later.
In The 6th Day we follow the life of ordinary guy Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger). He’s a helicopter pilot with a pretty ordinary life with a wife, daughter, and even a cute dog. On his birthday he decides to switch off a job with his work partner Hank. Hank is killed during the job and Adam comes home to find someone who looks interestingly just like him this person is living in his house, acting like him, playing with his child, and even having sex with his wife. Well, in any other movie a mind-over-anger approach would have taken place. But, come on! This is an Arnie film and all hell breaks loose, as there are two Arnies on screen.
In the near future and we’re told the not so far away future by the opening titles cloning of pets has been perfected and though humans have been cloned, it is outlawed. The master-cloning doctor is a brilliant man named Dr. Weir (Robert Duvall) and he has a scheming business partner named Drucker (Tony Goldwyn). Well, like in real life, laws are made to be broken and Adam has been cloned and now that there are two of them in the world, one of them has to be eliminated to eliminate the evidence of illegal cloning.
The story for The 6th Day is not deep, this is an action film, but the issues brought up in the film are great! The cloning process basically reproduces an exact clone of a person within two hours. What does this mean really? It means that a person can live forever. A snapshot of a person’s mind at a moment of time (called a “syncording”) and a sample of the person’s DNA is all that is needed to create a perfect clone. This clone doesn’t even know that he is a clone. The issue of cloning is quite real in today’s world and the film does bring up some of these interesting issues. It is because of this that the film survives, it is able to infuse enough action to please the audience and also put in something for the audience to think about after the film.
Where the film fails, but not failing hard enough for me to not like the film, is in its tone and setting. See, the opening titles try to scare us by saying that what we are going to see is the near future. But, it goes on specifically to let us know that this is not too far away from now. And if the film had stuck to this then it would have been a brilliant film what I mean is if the film had put the characters in a world that is not far different than our world right now, it would have helped put the audience closer to what is happening on screen and what is at the core of the film, the question of cloning. What director Roger Spottiswoode (“Tomorrow Never Dies”) does though is tell us one thing and then show us another he puts us in a world where helicopters can transform into jet planes, where instead of ammo firing guns there are laser guns, and holographic displays for football games. With these things he’s just put us not in the near future, but way “out there”. And but doing that the points and issues brought up by the film do not him home well enough. Also the suspension of disbelief is now greater since we now have to believe that cloning technology is perfected to the point where a human can be cloned in two hours plus that there are helicopters that can turn into jet planes and that there are laser guns. I think Spottiswoode seriously dropped the ball here. He should have said that it was in the not so distant future then set it up just like that, it would have made the film’s depiction of the cloning much more frightening.
Lets not forget though that this is an action film and there is action in the film. Like Spottiswoode previous action film Tomorrow Never Dies, the action is pretty flat in this film. Spottiswoode does not know how to do action well. The action is flat and at times yawn inducing. A car chase is shot early on in the film and that was a dud. The laser gun fights were, well, laser gun fights that looked as exciting as some cutting room floor stuff from the original Star Wars film. It’s enough action to carry the film along, but it sure isn’t exciting enough to carry the film by itself thank goodness for the good core ideas about cloning.
The actors seem to do what they can with the film. Arnie is Arnie. This isn’t one of his best performances. It also isn’t one of his worst. He is serviceable and likeable on screen. I wish Arnie would return to the classic style Arnie and make movies like T2, Total Recall, or even something like Predator. Neo-Arnie is a little too soft for my tastes. Worth mentioning is actress Sara Wynter as Talia. Talia is one of the agents working for Drucker’s corporation trying to eliminate Adam. Wynter is does pretty well with her part and it was always entertaining to see her on screen.
The 6th Day is an average movie that eludes my recommendation for a big screen showing at full price. But, if you see it at a cheap matinee or on video it will be a decent flick to see. The ideas brought up about cloning are good conversation items and it is nice to see Arnie back on the screen doing something better than that hellacious (pun intended) End of Days.