THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
The 6th Day (2000)
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
“It’s an Arnold movie, and that’s something hard not to dig.”
On the surface, there’s a lot to hate about The 6th Day. The product placement seems a bit heavy (XFL, really?). The effects appear incredibly dated after only a decade, especially considering it is a futuristic sci-fi movie (everything looks on the cheap). It pathetically attempts to recapture Arnold’s glory days of Total Recall (bit of a rip-off). Director Roger Spottiswoode is a subpar director (far too much slow-mo and dumb reactions for the actors). Oh, and the whole movie reeks of the “double” desperation. You know this old gag. All movie stars have done it. When they can’t find a true co-star, they hire themselves! They just need two sets of clothes. Nic Cage, Jonathan Lithgow, Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Sam Rockwell, and even Van Damme all have done it. Been there, done that, even though we’re all a sucker for a novelty that dates back to the Patty Duke Show (long time ago, kids).
However, even with a steaming hot load of negatives, The 6th Day still manages to work, and it works pretty damn well in spite of itself. It’s still enjoyable, despite obvious and sometimes obnoxious flaws. For one, it’s an Arnold movie, and that’s something hard not to dig. We’ve gone nearly a decade without the dude as a movie star, so it’s nice to revisit our old friend, even if this movie came at the tail end of his career. It doesn’t matter though, because like a Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, or Clint Eastwood, Hollywood hasn’t figured out how to replace him. The movie might be good or bad, but it’s impossible not to be drawn to him, as weird as that may sound.
As Adam Gibson, Arnold stars as a helicopter pilot in a world where cloning was nearly perfected only to see it banned for human use. Of course, somehow he finds himself wrapped up in murder, mayhem, and conspiracy. Since the major theme here in human cloning, it serves as the perfect vehicle to give us double the Arnold. Unfortunately, the clone can’t speak much better the original. Overall, though, who cares? When he delivers the one-liners like, “I might be back,” it shows the dude knows how to play to the audience. What more can you want?
Like him or want to punch him in his big, dumb chin, Arnold possesses charisma few actors have. Sure, at this stage, Arnold was already passed his prime. Skin loose, hair dyed, eyebrows twice as thick as normal. His “guns” only making short cameos. But it doesn’t matter. The big fella always could and hopefully will still be able to carry a movie. He manages to kick ass even as he approaches AARP contention. Especially kicking his own ass, and THEN dropping a one-liner on him. It’s pretty amusing, even though they become friends in the end. How can you blame him? He is quite likeable. The main thing about Arnold at this age is that action was like a bad habit. His reactions seem like a parody of himself at times, which is good for a laugh, but at times it stops the action and the moment. It’s truly my main beef with the film.
Smartly, however, The 6th Day employed some damn good actors, notably Michael Rooker, Michael Rapaport, and Robert Duvall. Notably, Rooker shows his villain chops, which isn’t exactly a revelation, but like Gary Oldman, few people play an evil asshole better. Duvall instantly gives creditability to any movie, and his scientist with the dying wife becomes the emotional centerpiece. But even smartlier (I don’t think that’s a word), the movie attempts to say something, even if it’s a bit heavy handed. It attempts a discussion about human cloning and the ethics circling it. If we have it, what do we allow? When we allow it, does it devalue human life? It’s an interesting and intriguing question that is played out over and over again. Sometimes for humor (as the bad guys keep getting dead in some bloody moments) and then sometimes for emotion (not going to spoil, but might involve a dog).
However, it all comes back to Arnold. No make how effective or weak a script is, it’s his movie. And if he’s shooting a gun, screaming, and killing people who he deems unworthy to live, its worth watching to me.