From the DVR: The 6th Day (2000)


After the first successful cloning of an animal in 1996—shout out to Dolly the sheep!—the race is on to try the technology out on humans…but almost immediately, there are issues addressing the ethics of such a practice (did we learn nothing from Frankenstein?).  In a credits prologue featured in the 2000 film The 6th Day, we learn that while the cloning of a human did eventually take place, the experiment went awry, and the specimen had to be destroyed.  Since that time, legislation known as “sixth day laws” (a reference to the creation passage of The Bible’s Genesis) has been passed prohibiting the practice…though the cloning of animals and human organs is apparently exempt.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and friend in The 6th Day (2000)

In 2015, if your beloved family pet snuffs it…you don’t have to go the Roy Rogers route.  You can take Fluffy or Bowser to RePet—a business that specializes in continuing the circle of life for the family cat or dog.  Oliver, a canine belonging to the Gibson family, has drawn his Ken-L rations and so Natalie (Wendy Crewson) asks husband Adam (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to drop by RePet for a quick clone job on Ollie so that their daughter Clara (Taylor Anne Reid) will never learn the horrible truth that pets have a short lifespan.  Adam allows his partner Hank Morgan (Michael Rapaport) to take charge of a charter (the two men pilot customers to various vacation destinations) ordered by bidness mogul Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn; Drucker’s the CEO of Replacement Technologies, an outfit specializing in cloning those human organs) while he checks out RePet.  Gibson is creeped out by the concept of pet cloning, and so he opts to get Clara a “SimPal”—a lifelike animatronic doll—instead.

posterArriving home with Clara’s new “pal” Cindy, Adam braces himself for the surprise party he’s going to be subjected to since it’s also his birthday.  But looking through the picture window of his home, he sees he’s already inside with family and friends and blowing out the candles on his cake.  What the…front yard?

A futuristic science-fiction thriller that details how an average Joe finds his life turned upside down through the ethically-gray practice of cloning, The 6th Day is currently playing on HDNet Movies this month.  I hadn’t seen the film, but with my curiosity nudged based on a few positive reviews I’ve read here and there, I decided to give it the once-over.  Written by Cormac and Marianne Wibberly and directed by Roger Spottiswoode (The Best of Times, Tomorrow Never Dies), Day was fashioned as a vehicle for action star/ex-governor Schwarzenegger (though the film was originally supposed to star Kevin Costner, who had to beg off due to a scheduling conflict).

Schwarzenegger in stereo

I shouldn’t beat around the bush about this.  I’m not a big Arnold Schwarzenegger fan (though I am fond of the first Terminator) because I don’t care for guns-and-explodiations movies as a rule.  I’ve seen more than my share (the ‘rents like them well enough), but I haven’t forgiven Arnie for 1993’s Last Action Hero…which I paid good money to see one scorching hot day in Morgantown.  (Granted, I had planned to go the movies anyway to beat the heat—my apartment was not air-conditioned—but I could have spent that money to see something else…though if memory serves, the only other picture playing was Sylvester Stallone’s Cliffhanger.  Talk about the devil and the deep blue sea.)  The 6th Day isn’t a terrible movie and there are good suspenseful moments here and there…but it won’t take you too long to suss out where the plot is headed, particularly if you’ve seen Total Recall (1990).  Day (I’m gonna catch hell for this one) is simply a clone of a better movie.

Tony Goldwyn and Robert Duvall

I might have enjoyed Day more if another actor other than Schwarzenegger had played the lead role; there’s a suffocating sameness to Arnie’s movies, and admittedly that’s due to the thespic limitations of the man.  (Also, too: I never get the feeling that his Adam Gibson is any real danger due to Schwarzenegger’s trademark he-man heroics.)  The supporting cast in Day is very good; you have folks like Tony Goldwyn and Michael Rooker at their villainous best; Robert Duvall classes up the jernt (he plays the doctor behind the illegal cloning technology); and I also liked Sarah Wynter (as a sexy female clone assassin) and Wendy Crewson (always reliable as Stallone’s wife).  Michael Rapaport was the big surprise here as Arnie’s best bud—I haven’t enjoyed Rapaport in a movie like this since 1996’s Beautiful Girls (a sleeper that a favorite of mine).

Sarah Wynter

The 6th Day is crammed with amusing bits here and there and gets credit for approaching the material with a sly sense of humor (there’s a news report playing during Adam’s visit to the police station that mentions Microsoft’s attempts to purchase one of the states of the union).  I also laughed out loud at a gag where Arnie’s Gibson is going through the doors of RePet and a pair of protesters attempt to block him from entering.  “Save your soul, man,” one of them pleads with Adam.  “God doesn’t want you to go in there.”  “Then God shouldn’t have killed my dog,” Adam retorts as he continues on his way.

Arnold Schwarzenegger got a $25 million payday for this one, something I’m sure Columbia/Sony later regretted because Day turned out to be a major disappointment at the box office.  But, hey—I didn’t lay down any Last Action Hero-type bucks for this and it kept me occupied for two hours while my parents napped during MSNBC.  If you haven’t seen this one already (though I suspect you already have) you could do worse.

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