Script Review: THE SIXTH DAY - by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley
WARNING: VERY MINOR SPOILERS!
When script reviews for END OF DAYS came out Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback was still in doubt, I had hoped the movie would be big. But it was terrible, the script, directing and acting, all of it. His career is now a mere shadow of what it once was. In the premiere issue of Total Movie, a new and excellent magazine, Chris Gore (Film Threat) wrote a nice article about the changing of the guard in terms of action heroes on screen. Not so long ago you could count on the Big Three: Stallone, Seagal, and Schwarzenegger to deliver the hard core macho action that fans loved. Today, the young action heroes are Will Smith, Nicholas Cage, and Ben Affleck. None of them can carry an action movie like the Big Three could. Smith is too busy delivering one-liners, Cage is sometimes just plain weird, and Affleck plays wimps. Don't get me wrong, they can act, but that's probably the problem for the average diehard action fan. (Kidding)
What would you rather see, UNDER SIEGE or REINDEER GAMES? I rest my case. Now all of the Big Three are trying to make comebacks. Arnold with THE SIXTH DAY, Seagal with BLOOD ON THE MOON (it will be a flop) and Stallone with GET CARTER. All three films are very different than the heavy duty action films that made them stars. Give me another ABOVE THE LAW, FIRST BLOOD or PREDATOR any day. Looking back, it seems to me that the problem started after LETHAL WEAPON and DIE HARD, both great action films. Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis, very different actors than the Big Three, became the new breed of action stars.
Since then the Big Three have slowly stopped making COMMANDO type movies, and have tried unsuccessfully to make 'thinking man' action. The modern action hero gets bloodied, and only makes it out by the skin of his teeth. There is no way Arnold could have pulled off a Martin Riggs (LETHAL WEAPON) character. This is at the core of problem for him today.
But I still want action! I want heart pounding, blood, brain, gore, and guts. Or, I'll take a sci-fi with a little hard core action to go along with it. Schwarzenegger made his TOTAL RECALL and TRUE LIES, those seemed to fit that bill, but along the way he started to get lost. His movies failed to deliver any of the 'thinking man' action, or any semblance of the good old fashion hard core action. Stuck in limbo Schwarzenegger made absolute terrible films like BATMAN AND ROBIN, and THE LAST ACTION HERO.
Then came END OF DAYS, which seemed to promise him the opportunity to connect again with an audience that seemingly could care less, and rightfully so. But it wasn't meant to be.
Enter THE SIXTH DAY, and much like END OF DAYS, it deals with issues of biblical proportions. Imagine a time, not to far away, when you could have Fluffy the cat cloned so you could enjoy her presence for a long time. Ah, nice huh? Well, imagine coming home from work one day only to discover that a clone of you is kissing your wife, playing with your children, drinking your beer and sitting in your laz-e-boy, for the love of God!
Arnold plays Adam Gibson, a pilot who runs the Double-X Charter service with a friend named Hank. Adam is a family man (as is Arnold, which is a big thing for him these days), and a loving father (ditto). The Script has a nice family element. As a matter of fact, the whole family thing really gets in the way of a potentially hard-core action/cool sci-fi flick. Bummer
The story is obviously set in the future, roughly thirty years from now. The bad guys are led by Michael Drucker (to be played by Tony Goldwyn), who owns Replacement Technologies, the leading firm in animal cloning.
This is the rub, so when Adam comes home to find someone in his place, the story takes off. Why did this happen to him, and how does he find out why? But he doesn't have time to scratch his head and think about it, as there are a bunch of bad guys after him.
So this story becomes a man on the run, but not a bad one actually. I think it works. Adam has no idea why he is being chased, or why there is a clone in his home. But obviously they are connected.
Drucker is running an illegal laboratory that is testing the cloning of humans (cloning humans is illegal.) The mad scientist, Dr. Weir, is played by Duvall. His character is a trip; he is consciously and morally in conflict.
There has been some criticism of the script being a rip-off of TOTAL RECALL, and I have to say there are some similarities, but nowadays this is becoming less and less surprising to me. Everyone is ripping off from someone else.
Here's my suggestion to Arnold, do TOTAL RECALL 2. I've spoken with screenwriter Ron Shushett (TOTAL RECALL, ALIENS) and from what he tells me the project is unfortunately dead, but it was very close a few times. The script for TR 2 has got to be pretty good -- better then anything Arnold has done lately, and with the original screenwriter involved I'd bet on it. Going back to familiar ground might be good for him (don't forget TRUE LIES 2, which is in development). But, since Arnold has said he won't do it, there is no way now TR 2 gets made, another bummer
Getting back to THE SIXTH DAY, I think the screenwriters did a nice job with the script, at least the version I'm reading. But is this story enough to bring Arnold's career back from the dead? I don't think so, I hope I'm wrong, but it doesn't look that way.
There has also been some criticism of the action sequences, and locations. I kinda agree with some of it, the action could be more inspiring, I want blood and guts, hard core action remember! But the jury is still out, lets see how it comes across on film.
The screenwriters are Cormac and Marianne Wibberley (GARAGE SALE, MOTEL BLUE) along with Daniel Petrie Jr. and John Sayles, and the director is Roger Spottiswoode. Who I think is a hell of a helmer, his previous credits include: TOMORROW NEVER DIES, among others. But look at the screenwriters. Was there ever really a chance that this story would have some hard core action, obviously no ... and a final bummer. Where's De Souza when you need 'em?
Filming wrapped in mid-May, 2000 with a release date of November 17th.
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