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The 6th Day (PG-13)
Columbia Pictures / Phoenix Pictures
Official Site

Director: Roger Spottiswoode

Producers: Mike Medavoy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Davison

Written by: Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, Michael Rapaport, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, Wendy Crewson, Rodney Rowland

Rating: .5 out of 5

THE 6TH DAY is a science fiction movie dealing with the very topical issue of cloning. Unfortunately, since it's also Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest attempt to reclaim his title as King of the Action Blockbuster, it's pretty stale. Its action is lame, its comedy ham-handed, and its promising premise treated shallowly.

Arnold plays the perfect family man who gets cloned against his will. He comes home to his own birthday party already in progress, to see another version of himself in the act of blowing out the candles. Soon, he is on the run from people who want to kill him. Is he the real Arnold? Or is he the clone?

Does it matter? Either way, it takes him about a nanosecond to suddenly switch from family man to indestructible killing machine. In the first major action sequence, he kills two villains, is involved in about 15 car collisions, falls roughly 500 feet into a dam basin, and swims in the dark for half a mile without even taking off his leather jacket.

While the fact that Arnie is still doing this in his fifties is amazing, THE 6TH DAY's action is pretty tired stuff. It's mostly the demolition of uninteresting locations, combined with really bad computer graphics—including a CGI cabin that looks like something out of Mario 64! And Arnie's coy post-mortem one-liners lost their magic about a decade ago. He would toss off a choice zinger ("I'm not feeling myself today," for instance) and pause as though waiting for the audience's laughter. Almost without exception, the audience just sat silently. It felt like watching bad stand-up.

Then there was the movie's conservative agenda, which I began to find pretty disturbing.

First of all, it takes a staunch anti-cloning stance—not necessarily wrong, but the only argument THE 6TH DAY really musters up is pretty weak: "Of course cloning will save lives and may allow us to extend our lives indefinitely, but it's bad, see? Because, you know, all it takes is one evil head of a corporate empire who happens to have sole ownership of the technology, and there you go, it's bad." (The evil boss in this case is played by Tony Goldwyn, by the way.)

Then there was its take on violence in the media. At one point Arnie cracks wise that, "I don't want to expose [my daughter] to any graphic violence, she gets enough of that from the media." Yes, I know this is meant as a joke, but the movie takes the issue seriously. It avoids an R rating, and there's no graphic violence. Yet, in the same scene, Arnie happily murders dozens of innocent security guards who are just doing their jobs. Sure, there's no blood, but to me it smacks of hypocrisy.

Most disturbingly, the movie glorifies a religious fundamentalist who goes around killing the makers of cloning technology, treating him as a noble warrior—which is really equivalent, if you think about it, to glorifying religious fundamentalists who go around killing abortion doctors. Are they noble warriors too?

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy mindless ultra-violent movies. CONAN THE BARBARIAN, for instance—now, there was a great Arnold gore-fest. But THE 6TH DAY feels neutered.

Okay, I'm not being fair. There were a few parts which could be enjoyed with guilty pleasure. Like, three. And you know what? In retrospect, I actually had a good time. It's one of those movies it's fun to sit and make fun of. So I'll bump up the rating by a quarter-star.

By the way, what the hell was Robert Duvall doing in there?

—Quin Arbeitman

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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