It's amazing how the not-too-distant future looks remarkably like the early '90s. Especially in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. But while The 6th Day borrows liberally from the likes of Total Recall (and equally, The Fugitive), it would be unfair to call it a carbon copy with a cloned-in turn from its leading man. This latest offering by director Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) misses the bullseye entirely on its own.
Picking up where Dolly the sheep left off, The 6th Day is set presumably sometime during the next decade. Self-driving cars are the rage. Bananas come in regular or nacho-cheese flavours. And cloning, at least of family pets, is a fact of life.
Cloning humans, however, is strictly illegal - - but that hasn't stopped a smug billionaire playing God. And when he clones the unwitting Arnie, he's left with no choice but to destroy the evidence of his wrongdoing.
For Schwarzenegger, it's fighting-by-numbers in a genre he almost single- handedly created yet, charitably, it also represents something of a return to form. The 6th Day comes complete with the gripping car chases, shoot-'em-ups, great gimmicks, and, of course, mano-a-mano combat with sadistic henchmen. And while the Best Supporting Psycho In Need Of A Valium Shoved Up His Arse should go to Michael Rooker for his laughably OTT performance, it's a minor quibble. The 6th Day remains a watchable enough actioner, albeit one which never truly pushes the envelope.
This is a shame as the potential is there in the screenplay, as questions of identity, immortality and ethics are raised and abandoned. But perhaps the biggest gaffe was setting it in a gizmo-laden future rather than the present, as you can only wonder what an unnerving, gripping and convincing tale The 6th Day could have been.
Despite these reservations, it's hard to hate a movie which offers such killer lines as, ""That sonuvabitch has got my thumb!"". It's the kind of crap you can only get away with in a Schwarzenegger movie. And isn't that why we love them after all?