Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “The Sixth Day” is really a Comedy, and anyone who doesn’t want to be bored to death by its oh so routine action sequences should treat the film as such. The film deals with the subject of human cloning, but if you thought this was a serious dissertation on said subject, you’re hopelessly gullible. Besides offering the Big S the opportunity to act opposite himself, the film also offers the Big S the opportunity to punch himself. As Jet Li (“The One”) and Jean-Claude van Damme (“Double Impact”) can testify to, you are not a big Hollywood action star until you’ve been in a film where you get to kick the crap out of yourself.
“The Sixth Day” opens in the near future where human cloning has been outlawed, everyone has flat screen computer monitors, football players make $300 million a year, and animals can be cloned before the kid it belongs to even knows it’s dead. The sequence of events that sets up the movie’s main plot is rather convoluted, so I’ll give everyone a brief, easy-to-understand rundown now.
The Big S plays Adam Gibson, an Everyman helicopter pilot with a wife and kid. Gibson’s business partner is Hank (Michael Rapaport), a happy-go-lucky, virtual sex-addicted goofball who one day does a switcheroo with Gibson and flies a big shot businessman name Drucker to a mountain retreat. Gibson was scheduled to fly, but because it’s his birthday, Hank has offered to take over. There is an assassination attempt at the retreat and Drucker, along with Hank, are killed. But because Drucker’s associates believe it was Gibson who was killed and not Hank, they clone Gibson in order to cover up the businessman’s murder, since Drucker himself will also be (voluntarily) cloned — once again. By the time Drucker’s goons figure out that it was Hank and not Gibson who had died, they attempt to cover up their cover-up by taking out one of the two existing Gibsons. You see, if word got out that Drucker is a clone, he would lose all of his fortune.
Toward the end of the film, the movie reveals to us who the cloned Gibson is, but of course anyone who has been paying attention knows who is the clone and who is the real Gibson. The movie undermines its own supposedly “shocking” twist by spelling out the whole who-is-clone bit almost immediately. Were we supposed to not figure it out?
Once Gibson discovers there’s another guy with his face and personality kissing his wife and tucking in his kid, things turn action-packed. Evil Capitalist Pig Drucker, whose sole ambition is to make money and live forever, has dispatched four colorful gunmen to chase down Gibson. The beautiful Sarah Wynter (TV’s “24”) plays one of the gunmen (or is the correct phrase gunwoman?) who keep coming back to life via cloning. The movie’s funnier segments have Gibson wryly annoyed that the gunmen keeps coming back alive after he kills them, and the cloned gunmen feeling the after-effects of their many “deaths”.
“The Sixth Day”, as previously stated, works best as a Comedy. The screenplay by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley makes a couple of attempts at approaching the topics of Godhood, mortality, and loss, but it’s all for naught. The movie’s loud slam-bang action sequences overpower any attempt at sober discussion about the troublesome notion of human cloning. The dialogue is quite funny, and the film is rife with comedic moments, such as when Gibson shoots off a gunman’s leg. In another scene, Gibson shoots off another person’s fingers (by accident) and uses the person’s severed thumb as a sort of keycard throughout the rest of the movie!
Director Roger Spottiswoode has a mammoth budget at his disposal and the movie is slick, expensive, and glossy as a result. It’s all you expect from a big budget Hollywood movie starring the Big S, but unfortunately that’s all there is. Once Gibson discovers, uh, himself, the movie becomes a retread of the Big S’s other past films, most notably “Total Recall”. There’s a lot of running, shooting, and slick special effects throughout. Did you expect anything less?
Roger Spottiswoode (director) / Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley (screenplay)
CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger …. Adam Gibson
Michael Rapaport …. Hank Morgan
Tony Goldwyn …. Michael Drucker
Michael Rooker …. Robert Marshall
Sarah Wynter …. Talia Elsworth