The 6th Day

Yet another movie that looks and sounds like it was written by people whose only real life experience are the films they saw growing up. What emerges is a film that looks and sounds like a lot of other films, which is ironic considering the film’s theme.

The 6th Day DVDSometime in the near future, a sinister company that legally clones household pets is also illegally cloning humans. They make a big mistake when they clone family man Arnold Schwarzenegger, who arrives home one night to find his wife in the arms of another man, himself.

It’s a scary notion, being cloned without your knowledge or permission. Too bad the writers and director of "The 6th Day" couldn’t do more with it than the obvious. What could and should have been an exciting thriller falls on its face due to lackluster direction and a script that was cloned from numerous, much better films.

The filmmakers miss every opportunity to make the film their own, allowing it to become a generic mess. It’s painful to watch the cast wade through the cliche dialogue, forced to keep a straight face when they know what they are saying is bad. Even Arnold’s trademark one-liners are lame.

Director Roger Spottiswoode has a spotty track record, but his best efforts have been those films driven by human emotion. "Under Fire," with Gene Hackman and Nick Nolte, HBO’s "And The Band Played On" and even "Shoot to Kill" displayed Spottiswoode’s ability to create engaging, character-driven films.

The characters in "The 6th Day" are so thin they’re transparent. They’re nothing more than paper- thin columns used to hold up a flimsy plot. Most of the film felt like it was written by someone raised on video games. Characters whose only purpose is to get you to the next screen. "The 6th Day" even features a mindless, extremely gratuitous helicopter race that serves no purpose except to prove how cool the writers are.

The culprits are Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, a husband & wife team whose idea of cool is ripping off everything they have ever seen. If "The 6th Day" had a voice of its own, these rip-offs might pass as homage. Instead, they serve as the backbone for the couple’s boneheaded script. They have people saying and doing things that are criminal.

Schwarzenegger plays Adam Gibson, a happy family man who runs a successful helicopter charter service for extreme sportsmen. When he’s not busy escorting snow boarders and skiers to distant peaks, Adam is worrying about how to break the news that the family pet died to his young daughter.

His wife suggests RePet, which clones the family pet into an exact duplicate, including memory. Adam hesitates, and then finds himself distracted when he’s asked to take a company physical. Of course we know that the samples Adam gave during the physical will be used to clone him. Part of the script’s problem is that it keeps the audience a half-dozen pages ahead of the characters.

When Adam learns that he has been cloned, he sets out to learn why. His search for the truth brings him face to face with the enemy, whose goons are under orders to eliminate him. This leads to a series of numbing action scenes, none of which are very interesting or thrilling. The writer’s trip themselves up by cloning the bad guys, so no matter how many times Schwarzenegger dispatches them, they pop back up. There’s no gratification in that.

Ultimately, "The 6th Day" feels like big boys playing with big toys. No one involved seems to take this serious enough to commit. The director seems to be overwhelmed by the scope of the effects, while the actors know they’re nothing more than furniture.

Schwarzenegger lumbers around like a big, bulky couch. He looks tired. Tony Goldwyn plays the super rich villain, someone so powerful that instead of lose a winning football quarterback to a career ending neck injury, he just clones himself another one. Sure, money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you someone to love.

Robert Duvall looks lost in all of this, playing the brilliant scientist who developed the cloning process to save his sick wife. Now he’s a corporate shill, cloning the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Whenever the filmmakers need a dramatic fix, they toss the ball to Duvall. Even he can’t make sense of any of this. He just says the lines, knowing full well they’re bogus.

The goon squad, led by Michael Rooker, are extraordinarily common, while the rest of the cast is just going through the motions. The film looks good, but at what cost? If more time had been spent on creating a clever script rather than on that stupid helicopter chase, "The 6th Day" might have emerged as a relevant and topical dark comedy on the horrors of cloning.

As it stands, "The 6th Day" is just horrible.


Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, Michael Rooker, Michael Rapaport, Sarah Wynter, Wendy Crewson in a film directed by Roger Spottiswoode. 124 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


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