The 6th Day Review

The Movie
The near future. Genetic research has progressed and although cloning has had limited success (it's available for pets) the failures that have occurred with human cloning have lead it to be outlawed. Meanwhile Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a pilot for a company that ferries extreme sports skiers and snowboarders up into the mountains by means of Whisper helicopter / jets. After accepting a VIP customer in Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), who runs a genetic research corporation, a strange turn of events leave Gibson with a memory blackout, unsure of how he suddenly finds himself in a taxi. A bigger shock awaits him as he returns home, to find that he is already there. Rather, a clone is there and has taken his place. Worse still, strange people tell him that a Sixth Day violation has occurred and then promptly try to kill him. Disposing of them, he traces the problem to the corporation run by Drucker, who are producing illegal human clones, designed by Dr Weir (Robert Duvall). Now not knowing exactly who he can and can't trust, including business partner Hank (Michael Rapaport), he must deal with the bad guys and get back his family, who are unaware that they now have a different Adam Gibson.

Arnie's life is turned upside down. He has an identity crisis, he doesn't know who he can trust and strange people are suddenly trying to kill him. Sound familiar? This isn't a remake of Total Recall but at times it feels like it. There are other similarities as well; in Recall, Arnie visits the Recall Corporation, in this movie he visits the pet cloning shop Re-Pet. Recall features an annoying robot taxi driver, here we have an annoying robot doll. Michael Ironside persues Arnie in Recall, Michael Rooker takes over those duties here, and both lose appendages in the chase. But Recall was a violent action movie involving mutants and the planet Mars, this is a thriller (with a bit less violence) about cloning. Like just about all movies involving cloning, a real life scientific technique is the premise, but the unexciting reality of cloning embryos is replaced by cloning fully grown adult humans. This is accomplished here by setting the film in the future, so "syncording" is possible, where a "brain dump" of a person's full memories can be inserted into a newly grown body. This allows the ingenious idea where Arnie kills the bad guys, but they keep getting re-cloned and coming back. There are other clever touches as well, as the "slightly in the future" look allows plenty of techno toys to be used, such as self drive vehicles, holographic lawyers and not least the Whisper craft that he flies, which switches between helicopter and jet modes. The only problem with setting films in the future like this is that they date quickly, for instance the film opens with XFL American Football, which has already been canned.

It just wouldn't be an Arnie movie without a few one-liners, and they're done with a good bit of humour here, as Arnie leaves Re-Pet saying "I might be back" and when he gets into a van and tells the driver to "Get out" the Auto-Nav system says it doesn't know where "Get Out" is. The story isn't quite sure whether it's a condemnation of genetic research or not, but largely (and wisely) settles for standard Arnie action over social comment in the end. The action sequences themselves are competently done, making them watchable without being totally gripping. The acting is also competent: Arnie is Arnie, and both he and the audience know and accept his limitations. The presence of Robert Duvall certainly gives the bad guys a bit more depth.

So is this a sophisticated thriller about the pros and cons of genetic research? Err, no, it's an Arnie movie, so that means "bad guys chase Arnie, Arnie kills bad guys". This was Schwarzenegger's follow up to the underwhelming End of Days and the woeful Batman and Robin. He needed a hit but somewhat surprisingly this wasn't it, even though whilst not a fantastic movie it's considerably better than those other previous efforts. Perhaps Arnie's reign as action king is finally at an end; the kids just want Matrix-style wire-work action these days, and the old boy is knocking on a bit now and isn't quite the cool hero he used to be. Still, this is reasonable entry in the roll call of Arnie movies, and as such is worth a look.

The opening few minutes of this film - set at an XFL American Football game - are some of the best looking images I have ever seen on DVD. The colour and detail are absolutely exquisite. For the rest of the movie the look is slightly more muted, but as this is the intentional look, there is very little to compalin about here.

The Dolby Digital track is as big and directional as you would expect from a movie such as this. However it's not quite as powerful as expected, and so therefore just misses out on a top mark.

Here's one of those rare occassions: the region 2 disc is massively superior in terms of extras than the region 1. Apparently, the extras were due to be installed on the R1 but were pulled at the last minute due to the poor box office of the movie and so not wanting a special edition of the DVD in the States. But we get all the material, and pretty decent it is too. The extras include:

The Future is Coming is a fifteen minute promo piece which delves into the usual things these featurettes cover, ie interviews, production design, stunts, effects, etc. It takes itself all a little too seriously, but it is interesting at times, especially when it looks at the real "Re-Pet". It's too short to get into too much detail on the movie production, but this is expanded elsewhere on the disc. As often occurs, this is a "promo" piece so designed to encourage people to watch the movie, yet it is best watched afterwards, as it gives away much of the plot.

The main part of the extras is in the On the Sixth Day. This comprises nine brief (around 4 or 5 minute) featurettes which cover much of the design, production and special effects of the movie that were skimmed over in The Future is Coming piece. These are Another Way to Fly looking at the design and prop construction of the Whisper helicopter / jets. Finding Sim Pal Cindy shows how the scarey, freaky Sim Cindy doll was developed. The Art of the Chase follows the Second Unit putting the car chase together, and Over the Cliff goes behind the scenes for the climax of that sequence. The special effects behind Hank's holographic girlfriend are examined in Virtual Girlfriend. In the Tank follows the issues and problems caused when filming actors underwater. Free Falling shows how falls can now be so much more spectacular as stunt people no longer have to land on a mat, they can be connected to a descender cable which can be digitally erased from the picture. Detonation looks at the construction and then blowing up of a building, and finally Enhancing the Look examines the application of the special effects in general, especially the scenes where Arnie acted against himself. These featurettes cover just about everything you would possibly want to know about the making of this movie.

Two film development sections are included. The Storyboard Comparisons takes three sequences from the movie and places the storyboards and final scenes side by side. The Animatics section shows the basic computer graphic test scenes for the Whisper Jet scenes in the mountains and the rooftop finale.

The Re-Pet Infomercial and Re-Pet TV Spot are clever and fake TV adverts for the Re-Pet company, as featured in the movie. It may not be that far away before we see ads like this for real.

There is no director or actor commentary, presumably due to lack of enthusiasm caused by the film's poor returns at the box office. However there is an Isolated Score with commentary by composer Trevor Rabin. The ex-Yes guitarist has now carved out a career writing film scores, and this one's up to his usual high standard. Rabin is very detailed about such topics as the styles of music included, instruments used, and application of music to different types of scene. Unfortunately he does talk over the top of the music at times, making it not exactly "isolated", and then leaving hefty periods of silence. Worth listening to if you are interested in the art of scoring film music, though.

The Filmographies section is your bog standard information screens about the talent, covering Arnie, the other major stars, and director Spottiswoode.

In the trailers section we have the theatrical trailer for the movie, along with the trailer for Vertical Limit. Finally in this section is the original trailer for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is quite unlike any other trailer and as such is essential viewing.

Final Thoughts
Arnie badly needed a hit with the 6th Day. Unfortunately he didn't get it, which is a shame, as it's a decent enough actioner and miles better than anything else he's done recently. The disc is technically very good (without being perfect) and only the lack of a director's commentary stopped the extras from getting top marks - which is more than can be said for the region 1 version. If you are an Arnie fan, you shouldn't be disappointed with this disc.

7 out of 10
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out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 20:27:14

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