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The 6th Day

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The 6th Day

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Duvall
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Identity crises are the stuff of comedy, as Shakespeare knew, and while Roger Spottiswoode's "The 6th Day" is not quite Shakespearean, the identity of its principal figure is often in question--thereby inspiring both comedic touches and some dramatic flavor. Columbia Pictures' logo asks, "Are you who you think you are?" which is quite a favorable concept for a story line, but Spottiswoode--who is responsible for the superior James Bond rouser "Tomorrow Never Dies"--settles for the most insipid use of the notion with his high-budget "The 6th Day".

Featuring some breathtaking airborne shots of snow- capped mountains and the downtown skyline of Canada's most picturesque big city, Vancouver, "The 6th Day" takes us behind today's headlines into the technology of cloning. The picture starts with a reasonably high credibility factor. We already know that a sheep named Dolly was actually cloned by science; that is (correct me if I'm wrong) some DNA samples from its woolly body were captured, placed in a Petrie dish, and given the opportunity to duplicate with all the creature's thoughts, feelings and personality. Because of rapid, Dolly-inspired strides now being made in the field, Spottiswoode situates "The 6th Day" in the year 2005 rather than in the previously considered 2020, giving us the conviction that people, too, may actually be duplicated within a short period of time. Instead of using the slow process of allowing a cloned creature to be born and grow naturally, Cormac and Marianne Wibberley's sceenplay has billionaire industrialist Drucker (Tony Goldwyn) knocking out human clones from pre-sculptured models so that his Frankensteinian doctor, Graham Weir (Robert Duvall), can simply implant the DNA into the models, allowing them to spring quickly to mature life.

The trouble begins when Drucker, believing the owner of a charter aircraft company, Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to be dead, clones the man into an exact duplicate, so that when Adam returns to his farmhouse he finds his double kissing his wife and partaking of the birthday cake which formed the centerpiece of a surprise party. When Drucker discovers that Adam is alive and thereby able to smash his illegal operation, he sends his chief bouncer Marshall (Michael Rooker) and Marshall's sidekick Talia (Sarah Wynter) into action to remove the authentic Adam from the scene.

In a picture that is full of the sound and fury of seemingly endless car crashes, the emission of laser guns, and some predictably generic explosions, the part that offers a modicum of interest is the comedy. Adam's comrade-in-flight, Hank (played by the ubiquitous Michael Rapaport), demonstrates his affection for women who make no demands by keeping a state-of-the-art holographic, Stepford-wife bimbo in his residence, a consort who meets all his needs at her master's command and disappears instantly when he becomes tired of her. Schwarzenegger himself is given some lines that are humorous by their very clunkiness. When he breaks the neck of a villain who has already been killed and cloned several times, he remarks to himself, "In my day people who were dead stayed dead."

But look at the missed opportunity--what could have been done when the two Adams finally meet fairly late into the film! Each could have affirmed that he was the true Adam (like George W. Bush's and Al Gore's insistence that "I am the real president-elect") and could have spent the balance of the time sorting out their identities. What's more, we do not get a sense that Drucker is an entirely evil person whose laboratory should be destroyed, nor do we see a reason for the existence of an absolute 6th-day law forbidding human cloning (the movie's title comes from the Biblical phrase, "On the Sixth Day God created Man"). Why not simply tweak the corporation? Stop its people from killing people and put the whole operation to use saving the lives of the terminally ill. That would be just one suggestion superior to the Luddite mentality that informs this story. The film, which suffers from an endless barrage of noise and effects that have been cloned over and over from previous movies, could have better utilized A-1 performers like Robert Duvall and Tony Goldwyn to be a mind-bending instead of ear-splitting drama.

Copyright 2000 Harvey Karten

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