Film Review: The 6th Day (2000)


Career of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1990s had hits and misses, with latter becoming more common as the decade was drawing to a close. New decade didn’t look more promising at the beginning. That impression was drawn based on commercial and critical failure of The 6th Day, 2000 science fiction action film directed by Roger Spotiswoode.

The plot of the film is set in near future, when the cloning technology is so advanced that the owners can recreate dead house pet in matter of hours. Human cloning is, however, strictly forbidden. This is of little concern to the protagonist, family man and helicopter pilot Adam Gibson (played by Schwarzenegger) who is tasked to bring Michael Drucker (played by Tony Goldwyn), wealthy and influential owner of cloning corporation, to a mountain ski resort. Although the flight went in a routine way, Gibson suddenly realise that there is another version of himself in the world – person named Adam Gibson that drives his car, uses his credit card and makes love to his wife Natalie (played by Wendy Crewson). But, before he is to face his double, Gibson has to run from the vicious assassins led by Robert Marshall (played by Michael Rooker). Gibson’s main problem is that he is a cloned, and therefore, represents proof that someone broke the laws against human cloning. Since police doesn’t believe his tale, he has rely only on his muscles and best friend Hank Morgan (played by Michael Rappaport).

Many critics dismissed The 6th Day as the watered down and uninspired copy of Schwarzenegger’s previous science fiction hit Total Recall. Certain similarities are hard to miss - in both films Schwarzenegger plays ordinary man who, due to malfunctioning future technology, has to fight not only for his life but also to deal with identity crisis. Inevitable comparisons between two films were inevitably at the expense of The 6th Day. Roger Spottiswoode clearly lacks talent, passion and vision of Paul Verhoeven, although his directing is adequate. His work, however, can’t hide the lack of more explicit violence, sex, nudity and black humour that characterised Schwarzengger’s films in 1980s. Spottiswoode, however, leaves enough space in pauses between action scenes to allow audience to thinks some important philosophical and ethical issues related to human cloning, mainly after characters played by Rappaport, Goldwyn or Robert Duvall (in the role of scientist Dr. Weir) give various answer on the dilemma whether cloning is Frankenstein-like technology that could destroy humanity or a small price to pay for peoples’ happier, healthier and longer lives. Script (which was allegedly doctored by renowned screenwriter John Sayles) takes the anti-cloning stance, but it isn’t consistent with it, allowing protagonist to use cloning for his benefit. The 6th Day, despite its flaws, provides more than enough entertainment for the audience and can be recommended even to those who aren’t big fans of Schwarzenegger.

RATING: 5/10 (++)

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