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"The 6th Day"...and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Career

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode ("Turner and Hooch").
Written by Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  11/19/00 


Now that I have spoken to the bride-to-be, I would like to take time out in this column to say congratulations to Frances Bazaz and her fiancé, Jon Duran!  I lived with Jon for three years at UVA, and while we all thought this might be coming for a while, I am glad to see it come to fruition.

What is scarier for me, though, is that I am saying congratulations in two consecutive Bellviews for friends getting married.  I have now been to seven weddings in the three years that I have been out of school, and I am already going to three weddings next year.  This worries me a bit.  Doesn't that seem like a lot?  And, I turned down invites for a couple more since they were out of the DC area...not that I feel any pressure, but the adjustment to going to so many weddings means that come the first of the year, I am going out to just slap down the cash for my own tux.  It will definitely get the use!

Today, I am not interested in talking about the movie as much as I am in dealing with the pain I am carrying right now for Arnold Schwarzenegger.  "The 6th Day" (apparently, the writers thought spelling out sixth was too difficult) is a decent enough movie, with some above-average special effects and its reasonably serious message about human cloning.  It features some okay performances from, amongst others, Robert Duvall and Michael Rucker ("Cliffhanger"), and it even features enough of a story to keep you interested.  It also has some light humor sprinkled about its running time.

It is what this movie IS NOT that is the real issue for me.  There was a time where Arnold Schwarzenegger was a movie titan; the biggest star in America, and a good portion of the world.  From 1984 through 1992, he made all of the following films:

  • "Conan the Destroyer"

  • "The Terminator"

  • "Commando"

  • "Raw Deal"

  • "Predator"

  • "The Running Man"

  • "Red Heat"

  • "Twins"

  • "Total Recall"

  • "Kindergarten Cop"

  • "Terminator 2:  Judgment Day"

I mean, talk about a run!  The man was a bad ass, making big-budget action films and smoking cigars like it was his job.  He had a high-profile wedding to Maria Schriver, he was appointed to be the national spokesman on fitness and was suddenly doing workouts on the White House lawn every year; it was incredible!  And, the movies themselves..."The Terminator" and "T2" were classics, "Commando" and "Predator" solidified his status as Hollywood's top hero, even on the heels of Sly's huge-grossing action classic "Rambo:  First Blood Part 2."  And, "Twins" and "Kindergarten Cop" showed his sensitive side while still giving action fans what they wanted.

Then, in 1993, it happened.  Arnold's first truly bad film after he had hit stardom was released:  "The Last Action Hero," about a kid's fantastic voyage in the world of film with the medium's biggest action star (obviously a parody of Schwarzenegger's own career), was so bad that apparently, critic Gene Siskel almost walked out of the theater and many of you have told me that you either considered or completed the idea yourselves!

Ever since that day, things have not gone well for his movie career besides the better-than-average blow-'em-ups "True Lies" and "Eraser."  Consider:  during this time period he made the awful "Junior" (as a pregnant man), "Jingle All the Way", and one of Bellview's ten worst films ever, "Batman and Robin."  Yet, he still commands a ridiculous $20 million per movie plus a percentage of the gross.  Strange, indeed...but, hope is on the horizon, as he just signed a deal to do "Terminator 3" in the summer of 2002.

What is tough for me, though, is seeing the man's body of work take such a plunge.  I still remember going to see "The Running Man" as a young'un and being so wowed by that movie.  "Total Recall" is still my favorite Schwarzenegger flick (just edging out "T2"), if anything because it features the single most offensively-bloody scene in an action movie, the part where Arnold--getting shot at by bad guys on an escalator--uses another perfectly healthy, innocent civilian as a body shield against the bad guys.  The civilian gets hit so many times that you are either laughing at the scene's utter ridiculousness or are hiding your head in fear that the guy's body will just explode with all the caps bursting through his chest.  Chuck "The Verb" Longer's favorite is "Predator", and we both love watching the Indian guy Billy scan for the Predator or Jesse Ventura unloading rounds from a massively-oversized chain gun into unknowing Mexican smugglers.  Or Bill Duke helping Carl Weathers spot the alien:  "Look over them trees..."  That was some great stuff!

But, "The 6th Day" features so little action--I should have known, since it was rated PG-13 and had Duvall involved--that fans who came looking for action will only find it at home with the girlfriend, not in your movie theater.  And, the action scenes involved in this movie mostly suck.

It is hard for me, watching our great legends head down a path that is unfamiliar to them.  I don't believe that Arnold is capable of playing a dramatic part in a sensitive film; his control of the English language oftentimes prohibits that.  In "The 6th Day", Arnold has a lot more lines to say and I still could hear some snickers from the back of my theater whenever his character started to get emotional.  So, could he make more action films?

I have to admit; his hard-core action career may be over.  He is 53 years old, and while he still looks like he is pretty cut and in great shape, I lost count of the number of times in "The 6th Day" he used a stunt double for things as simple as climbing a fence or jumping down a stairwell.  I am hopeful that Arnold will get out of starring in major adventure vehicles like "The 6th Day" soon, if anything to save his reputation with the fans that he won during his great mid-80s run of films that helped define the modern action-adventure.  With all that money in the bank, why not go ahead and jump straight into politics?

Rating for "The 6th Day":  Matinee
Rating for Schwarzenegger's career outlook:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09