The 6th Day movie full length review - I liked it for Arnie's sake, but the film is hardly great
It's simply a case of "good idea, bad execution" with this flashy movie which has a great plot - based in 'the near future', it's actually not far from reality - but lots of irritating stylistic bits which really let it down.
The inclusion of a loud pop song into the brew didn't help one bit either. We watch things happen in slow-motion, images shake and shudder on the screen, mixing together bits from THE MATRIX and ENEMY OF THE STATE to no good effect. Whereas those two films benefited substantially from such gimmicks, THE SIXTH DAY merely looks shallow and pretentious.
Oh, how the flaws with this film are endless. For a start there's the finale, which goes on half an hour too long (something I've never said before about a Schwarzenegger movie), and then there's the action. To put it bluntly, this may have been a better film without the flashy action which doesn't do it any favours. From a silly laser shootout to a hectic car chase, this film just doesn't generate the thrills and spills of other, better action movies. I like my action detailed, whereas things happen in such a rush here that it's difficult to keep track of what's going on. Sure, Arnie gets to fight in a variety of locations, but slowing things down a little would have been a better bet. It seems like their hearts just weren't in it - bring back James Cameron, I say.
Another flaw of the movie is to bring in unnecessary comic relief where none is needed. Two supremely irritating villains are there for comic relief purposes. They also lack any menace altogether - one sports blue hair, the other an eyebrow ring. They look more like goths or hippies than any substantial threat. The lightness of the script means that it's difficult to care about any of the characters or even understand them, and my liking of Arnie came from him as an actor, not the character he portrays.
Arnie's acting is this film's main highlight, for me at least. Schwarzenegger really seems to have developed as an actor over the years, and here he's likable and believable as a friendly family man caught up in the chaos. While lacking the mean edge which outlined some of his earlier offerings, his screen presence is still powerful enough to make you believe he's capable of performing all the major stunts that he pulls here. A glimpse of a bulging muscle is enough to convince me that the 54 year old star isn't past it just yet. He's also pretty funny, especially when delivering throwaway lines like "I might be back" and "I know who I am!".
There are two other good actors in the film. Michael Rooker looks very evil as a government heavy, although unfortunately he doesn't get to do anything too horrible to anybody. Elsewhere, Robert Duvall is also pretty good as a misguided scientist who predictably turns his back on the experiments he started with devastating results. Michael Rapaport is okay in a light relief role as Arnie's helicopter buddy, but the bland Tony Goldwyn is supremely miscast as the chief villain, as his wooden acting really lets the film down. Couldn't they have gone for somebody with a bit of menace?
The music, like the action, is superficial and forgettable. The special effects are adequate, but why do they insist on throwing in dodgy-looking CGI (here in the form of super-helicopters) all the time? Some of the laser fights look all right, as does the "abomination" at the end, a clone who has only been 84% created - resulting in a slimy, icky creature that looks like Seth Brundle in THE FLY when he was between his "human" and "fly" stages. Sadly, most of the violence is kept off screen, and the only really strong bits I remember are a neck breaking (treated as a joke) and somebody getting their foot shot off (it doesn't matter, as these characters can simply clone themselves again). At one stage in the film's finale it looks like we're in for a nicely gruesome scene showing a baddie getting cut in two with a helicopter blade, but it just doesn't happen.
Another thing that annoyed me were the amount of clichés present in this film. Plenty of times I had a sense of déjà vu, starting right from the moment there's a car chase and music very similar TERMINATOR 2 pops up. Most noticeably, though, is the influence of TOTAL RECALL here, as both films consist of Schwarzenegger on the run from government criminals who are trying to execute him, and both rely on hi-tech gear to impress. For instance, Arnold buys a life-like doll for his daughter which sits in the back of a taxi with him and makes annoying comments. Compare this with the scene in TOTAL RECALL where Schwarzenegger enters a "Johnny-cab" and has to put up with an irritating dummy who can't understand his instructions. The resemblance is uncanny.
What this film does have is an intelligent story which basically explores all the areas of cloning, what it means, how it's done, and what effect it may have on humanity. The strength of the story is what makes this film watchable, if not unmissable. Sadly if only they'd done away with the lame villains and stupid comedy it would have been a lot better, if darker. One thing I did enjoy were the scenes that Arnie shares with his clone - strangely, it made me think of the two Van Dammes for the price of one in DOUBLE IMPACT. These are pretty funny and cool, just like Arnie himself. Let's hope he makes some good movies like he used to before he gets too old for it...