. "The Sixth Day"

This cloning has got to stop! You know how the bad guy always keeps coming back in B movies? You throw him off a cliff, you mash him up in a grinder, you squash him in a hydraulic press, you even put a bullet into his heart, and just when you are certain he's out of the way, he springs up to haunt the hero and us poor gullible fools in the audience. Well, in "The Sixth Day" they found a way to make it plausible!

These folks don't have to come back. They're just cloned, so there's more than one of 'em. One of the bad guys in this flick has been "brought back" so many times that even his evil boss tires of him.

But, the good guy gets cloned, and therein lies the story behind this sci-fi futuristic escapade into the worst possible scenario for the DNA crowd. In this future, interesting projections are made about what American technology is likely to make possible. Your fridge is out of milk? The computer screen on its door alerts you. You touch the screen and it's ordered from the store. In this world, cloning of humans is illegal. But, apparently, curbing evil has not yet been accomplished.

Now, cloning, in real life in the year 2000, presents some difficulties. Cloning today requires a fresh born animal since it's done in the egg. You don't get a full blown adult that you can compare to the original. But in "The Sixth Day" the problem is solved. Replacement Technologies (a cloning factory) is storing adult "templates". You only have to feed it the DNA and the "sim" data captured on disc from the original (that's what's happening in the poster picture - see below) and you have the full-blown identical-aged copy. What progress.

Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarznegger) is an ex-fighter pilot. He's running a charter helicopter service with his buddy Hank Morgan (Michael Rapaport). In an introductory scene, he demonstrates the ability to run his hybrid aircraft entirely by remote. Suitably futuristic, they were probably conceived along the lines of the U.S. Marine's MV-22 Osprey, a hybrid helicopter-fixed wing airplane. This futuristic model's unique capabilities figure into the action during the last act. Good digital work.

Cloning, in this future world, is fully acccepted... for animals. You can replace your pet at the RePet store. But Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn) the CEO of Replacement Technologies, is not playing by the rules. His chief scientist, Griffin Weir (Robert Duvall) has continued his perfection of the human cloning technique. And, in a massive error of judgement, they pick Adam to clone. Bad mistake.

He doesn't like it when he comes home for his birthday party and finds his clone enjoying the celebratory attentions of his wife, child and friends. He likes it less when the bad guys come to get him out of the way, the act which sets off car chases, explosions, and endless shootouts featuring futuristic firearms whose laser rays produce a deadly fireworks effect upon impact. So much fun for the special effects crew that it occurs constantly throughout the action. There's no mention of the Brady Bill in this movie.

The unique thing about this setup for an action movie is that you can actually kill off any of the characters without spoiling the story. Cloning is a boon to the genre. But, for the fans of "Total Recall", one of Schwarznegger's best efforts, be forewarned. This is no clone of that. It's not bad but it's not quite that good.

As for Schwarznegger, he's been exceptionally canny about the material he's done throughout his career, partially accounting for his huge stardom. In this pursuit of the right material and best filmmakers (director Roger Spottiswood previously did the 1997 Bond film, "Tomorrow Never Dies") he's brought us some exceptional entertainment. The question here is, does he continue on the same high level, especially considering his convalescence from a heart condition. The good news is that you don't, in "The Sixth Day", think about what Arnold doesn't have -- there's still plenty for the bad guys to contend with. All in all, it's a fun, creative romp with the mighty muscle man who, when he flexes, still displaces half the air in the room.

Estimated cost: $82,000,000. Projected U.S. boxoffice: $40,000,000.

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                                      ~~  The Filmiliar Cineaste  

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