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'6th Day, The'

Schwarzenegger battles the bad clone guys in 'The 6th Day'

Friday, November 17, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, "The 6th Day," is set "in the near future ... sooner than you think."

'The 6th Day'

RATING: PG-13 for strong action violence, brief strong language and some sensuality.

STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger

DIRECTOR: Roger Spottiswoode




A quarterback earns $300 million a year (and, you guessed it, doesn't play in Pittsburgh), virtual girlfriends can be summoned at will and a business called RePets can clone a newly dead dog or cat in a single day. This is the brave new world inhabited by Schwarzenegger's Adam Gibson, a charter pilot who ferries extreme-sports fanatics to mountaintops.

Adam is happily married and the father of a school-age daughter. Although he playfully flies one of his Whispercrafts by remote control, he is something of a throwback -- shaving the old-fashioned way and being reluctant to replicate the family pooch.

He finds himself in clone central, however, after he and his business partner (Michael Rapaport) are hired by one of the world's wealthiest men, Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn). Even though cloning humans has been banned by "The 6th Day Law," Drucker and Dr. Weir (Robert Duvall) have been secretly cloning humans for some time. At a place called Replacement Technologies, Drucker and Weir keep a series of membrane-shrouded "blanks" that will morph into humans when the appropriate DNA and memory banks are added.

Adam learns he's been cloned when he arrives home for his birthday party and sees his double inside, blowing out his candles. He's soon fighting for his life -- he's under fire from Drucker's henchclones -- and his family, which has been co-opted by his replica.

"The 6th Day," directed by Roger Spottiswoode, is a slick, high-tech and surprisingly entertaining ride. The less you think about it, the more you'll like it; otherwise, you'll find enough tiny holes to rival a West Palm Beach ballot.

Schwarzenegger still can't make his chiseled stone-like face telegraph sadness, for instance, but he's on firm footing in the action scenes and "6th Day" has some first-rate stunts. Although Adam is something of a well-muscled Everyman, he also is a veteran of the "Rainforest War," which may explain his prowess with a weapon that seems a hand-held descendant of the Gulf War missiles.

Part of the fun of "6th Day" is seeing how today's excesses have been spun into tomorrow's reality. After all, a wealthy couple really gave Texas scientists $2.3 million to clone their beloved collie. Who's to say your average pet owner wouldn't take advantage of a RePet franchise near them?

And writers Cormac and Marianne Wibberley drop in comic dollops: A passing reference is made to the fact that smoking is now illegal and the shapely holographic girlfriend asks her flesh-and-blood boyfriend if he's been working out. And suffice it to say that Schwarzenegger gets a couple of funny one-liners, too.

"The 6th Day," shot mainly in Vancouver, doesn't fully develop Duvall's scientist or the arguments for or against cloning although God (whose creation of man on the sixth day provides the title) merits a mention. Like the headquarters of Replacement Technologies, the thriller has a cold, metallic, futuristic feel.

Spottiswoode keeps the action moving, using a sort of funky, fast-forward technique, shows off Canada to good effect and capitalizes on a capable supporting cast. Tony Goldwyn, for one, has a juicy role and Rapaport handles his bit quite nicely, as do Michael Rooker and Wendy Crewson.

A note of caution: In watching "6th Day" I had assumed it was rated R but it's actually PG-13. There is at least one use of the f-word and what is called strong action violence. Someone's lower leg is shot off, a neck is permanently snapped and some fingers separated from their original owner.

"The 6th Day" is far from the first movie to tackle cloning (one twist is reminiscent of Michael Keaton's "Multiplicity") and it's probably far from the last. With a possible actors' strike looming, cloning allows Hollywood to get two famous faces for the price of one.

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