The 6th Day (2000)
The 6th Day (2000)

Genre: Action and Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 2 hrs. 3 min.

Release Date: November 17th, 2000 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Roger Spottiswoode Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Rapaport, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, Wendy Crewson, Rod Rowland, Terry Crews, Robert Duvall, Wanda Cannon, Taylor Anne Reid, Jennifer Gareis

 


 

I

n 1997, a sheep is successfully cloned. In 2000, human DNA is mapped. But shortly after, anti-cloning protests begin in Rome; human trials are attempted but fail; and the practice is finally banned outright. But that hasn’t stopped billion-dollar industries, such as professional football, which soon figure out ways to exploit their secretive links to cloning outfits.

Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a hi-tech helicopter-chartering company pilot, doesn’t feel any different on his birthday. But when his eight-year-old daughter’s dog Oliver dies, he’s forced to contemplate going to a cloning company, which could help to preserve the girl’s innocence yet delay the valuable lesson of mortality. Although Adam is specifically requested to operate a vehicle for a very important (or extremely rich) client, he switches the mission with his partner Hank (Michael Rapaport) in order to stop by the animal cloning clinic to mull over the freaky idea – and to keep the peace with his wife Natalie (Wendy Crewson). But when he returns home that evening, he discovers that someone else is in his home, eating birthday cake, and celebrating with his family – and that that person is himself.

“Well it must have been the clone!” In an anticipated twist, Gibson becomes the victim of illegal human cloning (a “6th Day Law” violation) – and is spontaneously transformed into an action hero. He’s able to drive his car through houses and buildings while avoiding laser blasts, dodge relentless gunfire, confuse professional killers, and careen his ride into a dam before jumping (in the style of “The Fugitive”) into the water hundreds of feet below. And, with unwavering certainty, he emerges unscathed.

Although he handles action sequences with an unquestionably appropriate verve, Schwarzenegger seems to struggle with light romance as much as this film struggles with depicting advanced technology in a sensible fashion. 3D graphics popping up in mirrors, Sim-Pal creations (the eerily Chucky-like, animatronic, intelligent doll), and the RePet animal cloning company (chiefly in their claim that they can color-coordinate replacement creatures) aren’t entirely convincing – though the driverless cars certainly predict a realistic future possibility. Fortunately, for many of the sci-fi ideas at play, a great deal of humor is injected into nearly every visualization or conversation – along with striking cynicism for elements like a virtual attorney or virtual psychiatrist, the repetitious replacement cloning of useful (or, rather, easily identifiable and unique-looking) henchmen, and the inefficiency of a completely automated 9-1-1 service.

“The 6th Day” takes a cue from “The Net” by implementing abusable governmental overreach, such as the manipulation of criminal records and identification methods, to generate extra thrills. This is amusing, since most of the cloning predicaments are heavily steeped in science-fiction, particularly with the impossible duplication of memories and personalities, which leads largely to generic action movie routines instead of moral questions and debatable conundrums. If the replication is so identical (right down to learned behaviors and idiosyncrasies), at a certain point it doesn’t matter which one is the clone and which one is the original.

While “The 6th Day” understandably sidesteps truly thought-provoking aspects of cloning in favor of explosions and fistfights and one-liners, it errs in the arena of editing. Hoping to appear cutting-edge, many of the scene transitions end up looking instantly dated or distracting with all the unnecessary graphics and cutting. Plus, the jokes continually spouted by the various villains – including Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, Rod Rowland, and Terry Crews – only hinder the ability for audiences to take any of it seriously. But, this is a Schwarzenegger vehicle and not a deep philosophical examination of the pros and cons of human cloning (something along the lines of a hokier “Minority Report,” what with its focus on memories) – so its effectiveness is based more on sharply-choreographed shootouts than ethical puzzlements. Unfortunately, even in that regard, the movie loses its impact by dragging out the finale and deadening the suspense (especially when bodyguards are curiously absent during moments of exposition, but then magically materialize when a skirmish is called for).

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10