End of Days (1999) / Thriller-Horror
MPAA Rated: R for intense violence and gore, a strong sex scene and language
Running Time: 121 min.
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Robin Tunney
Director: Peter Hyams
Screenplay: Andrew W. Marlowe
Review published December 1, 1999
20 years before the Millennium, a newborn girl is tagged by some Satanists who need her to be the sex partner of choice for Satan when he appears before the year 2000. Satan himself takes over the body of a Wall Street banker (Byrne, Enemy of the State), all the while the girl has fantasies about "making love" to him. Jericho Cane (Schwarzenegger, Batman & Robin) is a down-and-out alcoholic security guard working for the man taken over by Satan, and when an old Catholic priest tries to assassinate his client, Jericho begins to uncover a hidden society working diligently to foil Satan's plans on a prophecy of world domination. Now it's a race between Jericho and Satan to find the girl (Tunney, The Craft) and decide the fate of everyone and everything.
Poor Arnie can't seem to get a break. After the amazingly successful True Lies in 1994, he has spent the subsequent six years making dud after dud, until ultimately he is in serious danger of losing his title as the world's biggest movie star. Junior, Eraser, Jingle All the Way, and Batman & Robin have been the worst string of failures since Arnold's early days, and in his attempt at a comeback he decided to do a genre he had never done before with End of Days, action-horror. The bad news for him is that it only adds one more nail in the coffin of his career.
And in speaking of downward career slides, it's probably fitting that director Peter Hyams (Timecop, Stay Tuned) is at the helm since he hasn't made a good film since Running Scared way back in 1986. With very dark lighting and some interesting amber color schemes, Hyams sets the right mood in terms of appearance, but the hokey script by Andrew Marlowe (Air Force One) creates nothing but laughable lines and phony situations that have no logic. One example: when we first see Arnie he is distraught with a gun to his head ready to end his miserable life and in the next he is wearing a bulletproof vest to save his life. Later in the film, the Robin Tunney is shown riding a subway and when she arrives in her home we see that she is actually quite rich enough not to have to ride one. And what is perhaps most annoying is the inconsistency of Satan's powers, in some scenes omnipotent and in others getting his ass whipped with hardly an effort.
End of Days is a total failure in almost every respect, with only some impressive special effects as the only saving grace. Obvious comparisons to The Devil's Advocate abound, most notably in the Gabriel Byrne's character, but there probably isn't anything in the film you haven't seen from a dozen other films in the history of horror. (OK, maybe you haven't seen Satan setting someone on fire with his own piss, but you get the point.)
Over $80 million dollars splashed across the screen with little to show for it in terms of thrills and chills. With Schwarzenegger and Hyams, we can only hope people don't regard this overdressed crap as End of Careers.
©1999 Vince Leo