And Then There was Crap

The 6th Day is now playing in theaters nationwide. For an exclusive interview with director Roger Spottiswoode, visit www.bestofberkeley.com.





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Back in 1997, when it was reported that a Scottish laboratory had

managed to create a perfect clone of a sheep, we all vaguely acknowledged

that something momentous had happened - it would just take a while to

realize it. Questions arose, pertaining to cloning's medical validity, its

necessity and its ethical responsibility.

Despite the "obvious" demand, we had never been offered a

big-budget action film that seriously attacked this issue. How could we

truly understand anything about it with only the help of scientific papers,

television interviews and disappointing and incomprehensible albums by

English art-rock bands? Without lots of objects blowing up and inane plot

decisions, we could not have gotten a handle on this issue. So, with that,

let us all thank God for The 6th Day, a film that truly presents the

issues in a necessary light.

Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has a problem. Well, he

has two problems. The more major problem is that he happens to have been

stuck in this film. The more immediate problem is that when he goes home,

he discovers that not only has someone cloned his dead dog, but someone has

cloned him and that person has stolen his life completely.

Before he can confront the carbon copy Arnie, a couple of thugs

from Millennium Security meet Gibson at his front door and tell him a "6th

day violation" (biblical reference to the day God created men, if you don't

get it) has occurred, and that he has been cloned. Human cloning is

illegal, he is informed, and the clone has no rights and will be destroyed.

After mentioning this, the thugs promptly try to kill him. He escapes,

naturally, killing the thugs in the process, thus initiating his attempts

to discover what has truly happened.

If only we did not have to follow him on his journey. The dead

thugs return from the grave, thanks to cloning (don't worry, the reason

they come back the same age with the same memories is all explained,

Poindexter), and harass Adam. His best friend, Hank (Michael Rapaport, a

brief breath of fresh air) is killed by a man who claims Hank is a clone

and an abomination to God.

On the other hand, we have Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), the

rich financier of Griffin Weir's (Robert Duvall) medical research company

that is illegally creating human clones and giving them to people with the

political power to reverse the laws against them. Of course, Drucker is

amoral and a clone, so evil self-preservation comes into play. In the end

the two Adams have to team up to save the day, and it all works out okay.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out okay for me. Personally, I'd rather

pay eight dollars to tie floppy ears to my head and go bear baiting than

see this film again. The actors aren't really at fault. Arnold is and

always has been a slave to the material. He does his best and it's passable

(he does have a killer one-liner in this film though, something which I

think must be contractual at this point).

Duvall has nothing to work with, so he slumps into

sympathetic-but-misguided mode. Rapaport is good (as always) but has almost

no role. The rest of the actors have been cast solely because they can play

one role in life, and they've all played it before (the thugs have been

thugs in about 100 different movies). The set isn't too bad - a bit of a

Total Recall and Demolition Man retread, with the sort of

campy, near-future look that those films perfected. Permissible, but not

exciting.

I blame the director, Roger Spottiswoode (something I didn't

say when I interviewed him). As director of Tomorrow Never Dies and

And The Band Played On, he should know better than to even touch

this film, nonetheless make it worse than it had to be. With a script this

horrible, he could try to distract us from it with the action, but instead

the script constantly interrupts the action. Though he could try to use the

fast but straight-forward directorial style that made Tomorrow such

a fun movie, he simply fills up the film by emphasizing the moralizing.

The largest mistake is the utilization of such maneuvers as

quick, bizarre cuts, excessive computer-generated effects and other weird

camera tricks. Spottiswoode is as English as his name sounds, and I can

well imagine him sitting in his chair, drinking tea and eating a scone,

thinking, "Wouldn't it be just top to do a film with that American-MTV

style? The kids are mad for it!" No, Mr. Spottiswoode, that style has

created an unmitigated disaster that shows only the catastrophic effect of

trying to clone more successful films (catch direct rip-offs of Total

Recall, The Fugitive and any early '90s action film, for that matter).

I don't think that was the cleverly hidden message. My prediction is that

this is not the film that will resurrect Arnold Schwarzenegger's career,

but it may destroy Roger Spottiswoode's. Except in Scotland, of course.

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