The 6th Day

Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Adam Gibson
Tony Goldwyn as Drucker
Robert Duvall as Dr. Graham Weir
Michael Rapaport as Hank
Sarah Wynter as Talia
Wendy Crewson as Natalie Gibson

Summary:
The 6th Day is one of the more enjoyable Schwarzenegger films since Eraser. There are a few neat concepts with clones, but nothing outstanding. It’s still worth checking out. If you liked Total Recall, you’ll probably like this.

Story:
In the near future, cloning technology has significantly progressed. With it comes controversy over cloning of humans. A law is passed banning human cloning called the 6th Day Law (after God creating man on the 6th day). With this in effect, companies like RePet proceed with the cloning of pets and other animals and plants. Little does anyone know they are secretly cloning humans.

Adam Gibson (Schwarzenegger) is a helicopter pilot who does extreme snowboarding charters with his partner Hank (Rapaport). His life is turned upside down one day when he arrives home to discover a clone has taken his place. Where did the clone come from? How did it get there? Why is it there? These are the questions Gibson tries to answer. However, this proves difficult as he is pursued by a group of enforcers trying to kill him. Gibson must escape the killers and answer all of his questions if he is to get his life back.

What Worked:
Comparisons to Total Recall are fairly accurate. The movies are indeed similar in many respects. But this movie still stands on its own. It is probably the most enjoyable Schwarzenegger flick since Eraser. The plot is fairly predictable and the twists and turns are by the numbers, but I don’t go to an Arnie movie looking for Shakespeare. But it still has a few points that are unique and interesting.

The ethical question of cloning humans is debated, of course. It definitely makes you think about issues you may never have pondered before. When is it best to allow a loved one to die? Can the death of loved ones (pets included) be an important lesson for us? Is it OK to harvest organs from clones? Do clones have a soul? Do clones have legal rights? Where is the line drawn between what is morally right and what is not? These may seem like ridiculous sci-fi type questions, but they are ones we may have to consider sooner than we think. This movie debates all sides of the issues.

There were also some fun twists involving the cloning. Arnold keeps killing the bad guys, and they keep getting cloned and coming back (with all their previous memories intact). It’s a funny twist. No matter how many times you kill a guy, they can come back. It’s also interesting that the bad guys have “phantom wounds” where they still kind of feel the pain from their previous death. That was a nice touch.

Since this film takes place in the future, it’s interesting to see what the creators thought technology would be like. The setting alone makes it unique. Cars drive themselves. Refrigerators re-order food when it runs out. Mirrors are TV screens. And then Schwarzenegger flies a futuristic helicopter/jet. It all came together as very creative. One of the highlights is a hideous lifelike doll called “Sim Pal Cindy”. This creepy doll looks like the Bride of Chuky, but all the kids want one. Reminds me of the Cabbage Patch dolls with a futuristic twist. Gibson and the bad guys all have humorous encounters with this abomination.

Overlooking Schwarzenegger, the acting is pretty good. Robert Duvall delivers an interesting performance as the Dr. Frankenstein of cloning. He goes from absolute devotion to cloning to loathing of the technology. Duvall makes the switch totally believable. Tony Goldwyn does his usual excellent bad guy portrayal. The goons all have their own shining moments, too.

What Didn’t Work:
As much as I love Schwarzenegger, his acting in this movie wasn’t great. Then again, it’s not any worse than his previous films, but what does that matter. But with two Arnolds in the film, the acting is doubly noticeable. As you can expect, Arnold eventually confronts his own clone. The moment seems more like an awkward prom date than anything and is rather disappointing. You’d think two Arnold’s would deliver twice the action, but that’s not the case. One takes the backseat to the other.

Some of the effects weren’t great. The helicopters varied between looking very realistic and very CG. It was rather inconsistent. Also in the film Arnold controls one helicopter with a hand held remote control. While an interesting concept, it’s a little hard to believe he could fly a helicopter remotely while running, jumping, and dodging blasts from the bad guys.

Then the director transitioned scenes with weird, psychedelic fast forward shots of cars on streets. What made it even stranger was that the same shot seemed to be used over and over. And to top the movie off, the whole film seems to be shown is super fast rewind at the very end. We were debating whether it was done to sneak in subliminal messages or to induce epileptic seizures. Still not sure which at this point, but I have a strong compulsion to declare that Schwarzenegger should be president in 2004.

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