The 6th Day (2003) / Sci Fi-Thriller

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for strong action violence, brief strong language and some sensuality
Running Time: 123 min.

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, Michael Rapaport
Director:  Roger Spottiswoode
Screenplay: Cormac and Marianne Wibberley

Review published November 16, 2000

With The 6th Day, Arnie (End of Days, Batman & Robin) may finally prove once and for all that he's no longer worthy of the "World's Greatest Action Star" title he's held for over a decade. The elements were here for a return to previous glory: a science-fiction plot, lots of action and stunts, cheeky one-liners, and a Philip K. Dick-ish storyline. He does all the things which made us love him as an action hero...but alas, it's just a regurgitation of everything he's done before.

The setting is the future, in a world that has introduced and popularized the use of cloning as a standard practice. Cloning is restricted to animals, and is especially popular with reviving cherished pets. Humans are not allowed to be cloned due to previous bad experiences, but that doesn't stop megalo-maniac Drucker (Goldwyn, Kiss the Girls) from doing it on the side for his own purposes. Arnie plays Adam Gibson, a family man who finds his world turned upside down when one day he comes home to find himself already there. Now Drucker has sent assassins out to exterminate him in an effort to keep their illegal deeds under wraps, and Gibson fights to get his life back and find out what's responsible for it all.

Fans of Schwarzenegger may immediately see elements of many of his previous classic works, especially Total Recall, in The 6th Day's storyline. However, the similarities occur so frequently that watching it for the first time gives almost the same feeling of familiarity as watching one of Arnie's older films for a second time. To be fair, there are moments when The 6th Day seems like it's on the verge of finally breaking out and becoming original and (one would hope) good, but any such aspirations are shot down with an ugly and boring final third. Attempts were made to inject humor, but it feels forced, and not as bold and brash as the kind Total Recall was able to deliver successfully. There are also attempts for surprise twists throughout the plot, but the casting and plotting made it obvious who would be good and who would be bad all along, and when the twists are revealed, all one can think is "Duh."

The 6th Day is what you might get if you threw Schwarzenegger's finest works into a blender and pressed purée. It's as if the producers asked themselves, "Gee, what is it that people liked about those films?" and they proceeded to put it all in in hopes the magic would be back. Ironically, by doing so, they are trying to "clone" Schwarzenegger into what he once was by plugging him into familiar situations and expecting the same results. What they end up proving is that clones may look and act like the original, but they don't capture the soul. The 6th Day is a big budget "paint-by-numbers" experiment confirming that painting by numbers might produce a decent picture, one could hardly confuse it with art.

 Qwipster's rating::

©2003 Vince Leo