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In the not-to-distant future, Adam Gibson (Schwarzenegger) is a helicopter pilot-for-hire and a dedicated family man who lives a happy, peaceful life. Until the day evil businessman Michael Drucker (Goldwyn) clones him by mistake. While genetically engineered pets are commonplace, cloning humans is banned under the “sixth day” laws and only one Adam Gibson can be allowed to live. Drucker dispatches his goons (Rooker and Wynter) with instructions to dispose of the duplicate at any cost.

Its tempting to imagine that The 6th Day began as a Hollywood executive’s dream. Clone Arnie! We’ll make twice as much money! Sadly double the Arnie equals half the fun in this stodgy, overlong action thriller. The near-future world of The 6th Day is recognisably our own, but one in which smoking is banned, football players pull down $300-million salaries and cars can be switched to autopilot. Genetic engineering has helped repopulate the ocean’s fish stocks and ended world hunger. Now thanks to RePet, cloning can be used to bring back your recently deceased pet, too.

Films like The 6th Day often stand or fall on the strength of their villain. Unfortunately, lanky Tony Goldwyn (grandson of legendary movie mogul Samuel, trivia fans) makes for a boring baddie. As the megalomaniac mega-millionaire who won’t let sleeping dogs—or humans—lie, he’s part Bill Gates, part Dr. Frankenstein and altogether too laid back to be truly menacing. Schwarzenegger bumbles through the film in his usual fashion, endearing or embarrassing depending on where your loyalties lie. But even die hard fans must be tiring of his trademark one-liners by now, The 6th Day rolling out yet another variant of the famous “I’ll be back” quip. This being a star vehicle, support is lacking. Robert Duvall phones in his none-too-taxing performance as a pioneering scientist while Australia’s Sarah Wynter gets to do little except put on a blue fright wig (to make herself look more Sci-Fi) and die repeatedly. Of course, Arnie’s real co-star here is himself. The double act is intended as comic relief, but the moments when the two Arnolds share the screen are the flattest of the movie. Pair Schwarzenegger with a comic talent like Danny Devito and he becomes an endearing clown. Twin him with himself and its like watching two straight men in search of a punchline.

The DVD contains plenty of special features, although labelling it a Collectors Edition is a bit cheeky. You get to enjoy a full showing of the freakily believable infomercial and TV advertisements for RePet and 10 behind the scenes featurettes offer a good insight into what it is like to work on a special effects blockbuster. The best part is watching animatronics experts piece together Sim Pal Cindy, a futuristic children’s doll that looks like it has stepped out of a particularly chilling B-movie. The making-of segment is rounded out with the inclusion of storyboards and animatics, which are essentially storyboards turned into computer animation. It’s enlightening to watch the level of toil that went into the CGI scenes, partly because by today’s unforgiving standards the film’s FX are pretty poor, with some jarringly obvious green-screen work during the action sequences.

An interesting spin on the audio commentary is achieved by handing the duty to Trevor Rabin, one time member of prog-rockers Yes and composer on Armageddon and Con Air. Rabin does a good job of demonstrating how, like actors, movie music must hit its marks, although for long periods where there is no music you’re left watching in silence. Still, there are times when that is preferable to hearing the dialogue. From its Biblical title to its portentous opening, The 6th Day clearly wants to be associated with the weighty issues of the day. But unlike the smart, futuristic satire of, say, RoboCop, the film doesn’t match its ambitions with an intelligent script. It’s telling that when the film does shape up for a philosophical debate, during a conversation between hero and villain, Arnie carries the motion with the rhetorical flourish ‘Go f*** yourself.’ The 6th Day itself is a bit like a clone. Take a slice of Total Recall, a dash of Dead Ringers and garnish with a sprinkle of Blade Runner and you have a soulless retread that you can’t help feeling you’ve seen before.
Stuart Whitmore

Published August 30, 2001

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You can buy it - next day delivery within Australia


THE 6TH DAY (M 15+)

CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Rappaport, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, Robert Duvall.

DIRECTOR: Roger Spottiswoode

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: August 22, 2001

Widescreen feature presentation; Theatrical trailer; Isolated music score with audio commentary by composer; 10 behind the scenes featurettes; RePet infomercial and TV spot; Storyboards and animatics; Talent profiles; Languages: English 5.1, Hungarian 5.1; Subtitles: English, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hebrew, Dutch, Bulgarian, Hindi, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Arabic

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