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  6th Day, The A Double Life
Year: 2000
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rapaport, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, Wendy Crewson, Rodney Rowland, Terry Crews, Ken Pogue, Colin Cunningham, Robert Duvall, Wanda Cannon, Taylor Anne Reid, Jennifer Gareis, Don McManus
Genre: Action, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: At this football game, in the height of the action one of the top players is hit too hard and injured, leading him to be stretchered off. The medic says he has a spinal injury that means he will never play again, but the player's boss Marshall (Michael Rooker) mutters something about that not really being a problem and proceeds to turn off the sportsman's life support while he's alone in the ambulance with him, killing him - or does it? Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger), by contrast, lives a humdrum existence as a helicopter pilot, husband to Natalie (Wendy Crewson) with whom he has a young daughter who he tends to indulge a little too much - today it's a talking doll she wants for HIS birthday. But it's not only Gibson whose birthday it is today...

At the turn of the millennium, the action genre was in a strange position between the old guard of heroes and the new arrivals of superheroes, giving rise to a set of movies that left the style like a crate of ripe fruit that was now fermenting: try any one and you would be plunged into a morass of messy, giddy, eventually headache-inducing entertainments that struggled with the concepts of what this brave new world of the twentieth century would bring. One of those old guard was Schwarzenegger who was already eyeing a political career as his work in cinema began to wind down: the meagre box office returns for The 6th Day left it appearing as if there were fewer and fewer of his fans remaining.

Nevertheless, he was still one of the most famous men on the planet, no matter that the years were advancing and he was posed the question, when is the right time for an action hero to retire? As it turned out, they don't retire, they just keep making comebacks until they are too clapped out to continue, which may be the same thing, but that very Hollywood drive to retain the youthful glow and energy was what informed the plot here. The premise went that it was the near future (2015, apparently) and advances in technology were such that cloning was possible, though laws were in place to prevent any duplication of humans, only animals and plants were permitted. Since when has that stopped a mad scientist, however?

Yes, it was back to the nineteen-thirties with a 2000 update and refit of mad science as commemorated in science fiction and horror since those heady days of the early talkies, and in this case the idea that you could carry on living indefinitely thanks to cloning was too tempting for the movie folks to resist. Getting too old or sick - or that career threatened by you looking long in the tooth? Then pop along to see Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), the head of the cloning business that is sticking to pets currently, or so it says, but is pressuring the politicians about the health benefits of never dying, and he may be able to help. What Gibson didn't count on was somebody cloning him without his permission - he returns home for his birthday party to find that not only is the recently deceased pet dog still alive, but someone is posing as him.

Someone who looks identical to him, because Drucker and his evil henchmen have been cloning around, playing God as the not entirely convincing Biblical quote at the beginning hints - and you know what happens to mortals who dabble in the Almighty's domain, don't you? In the movies, at any rate, this leads to a bunch of expensive but given the point in time oddly tacky adventures for Schwarzenegger to race about in, suggesting the technology was well and truly in place to realise almost every sort of fantastical scenario, but the culture had not quite grasped how it would affect society. For example, Gibson's best pal (Michael Rapaport) has a virtual girlfriend hologram and a car that drives him to work where he remote controls his full-sized helicopter, but owns no mobile phone. It should also be noted the animated doll Gibson's daughter covets makes Chucky look like a Care Bear, a horror show of animatronic puppetry, and yet another example of how wide of the mark The 6th Day proved to be. If you had any nostalgia for entertainment getting the future wrong, this would be diverting, but it grew monotonous and Schwarzenegger trying the Jean-Claude Van Damme trick of acting with his twin or clone doubled up the idiocy. Music by Trevor Rabin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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