Top positive review
Could have been a classic
on 8 May 2017
Spot the odd one out: ‘Terminator 2, Predator, Total Recall, The 6th Day.’ Yes, it’s 2000’s ‘The 6th Day.’ The others are all regarded as action classics of their day which most people are aware of, regardless of whether they’ve seen them, or particularly like Arnold Schwarzenegger or not. However, even fans may have forgotten ‘The 6th Day’ entirely. I didn’t see it at the cinema (and I’m a die-hard Arnie fan!). I saw it a good few years later on video and was actually pleasantly surprised. Although, I can see why it was always destined to fly under the radar.
For a start it was released in the year 2000. This was hardly ‘peak time’ during Arnie’s time in centre stage. I would imagine that if it was released in the late eighties/early nineties then it would have gathered much more attention at the Box Office. So an ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’ film in 2000 wouldn’t attract many new fans, but what about his existing audience (like me!)? Well, we grew older by then and were probably less inclined to go to the cinema as much. And, those who did go to see it often levelled the same criticism at it, i.e. it’s a bit too similar to his previous classic, ‘Total Recall.’ Now, I can see where they’re coming from here. The ‘set up’ is similar. In ‘Total Recall’ you have an ‘everyman’ slowing finding out that his life isn’t what he thought it was and then getting chased by shady forces through a sci-fi setting and – er – that brief and vague synopsis could be used to describe ‘The 6th Day’ too. Yeah, there are more than a few similarities with the set-up, but I also think that there’s enough here that’s different to make it not just a ‘poor man’s Total Recall.’
Now, I briefly mentioned that it’s set in a ‘futuristic setting.’ Okay, admittedly not far in the future, but enough that you need a reasonable budget to make it look believable. Perhaps the budget all went on Arnie’s paycheque? There are these space-age helicopters which transform into jet planes and every time they come on the screen they look about as convincing as a cut-scene from a Playstation 2 game. In fact, the whole film feels like it’s been ‘made-for-TV’ as the sets are, well, so ‘set-like’ that you’d think you were watching a low budget soap opera, not a multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbuster.
So, it’s a film released at the wrong time for its major star, it looks cheap and kind of rips of a (arguably better) piece of work. It didn’t really get the hate that some films do, but it got a hell of a lot of indifference. And this is a shame, because it’s rather fun. It’s tone is actually quite light and never feels bogged down in ‘darkness’ like so many modern action films which strive to be gritty and realistic (‘Bourne’ Franchise and Daniel Craig’s ‘Bond’ – I’m looking at you!). There are plenty of one-liners and you have to suspend your disbelief a great deal to enjoy it. Yes, Arnie despatches hordes of bad guys without breaking a sweat. Realistic? Hell, no! But this is Arnie! He does this all the time – we all know that. Deal with it. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it a damn sight more if you do!
‘The 6th Day’ really is a film out of its time. While action films were getting more and more serious, it sits firmly in that over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek era that Arnie owned back in his day. I keep using the work ‘fun’ to describe it, because that’s all it is. Good, action-packed, popcorn fun. Who can’t laugh at Arnie killing off the baddies, only to have them cloned back in the next scene (at great personal expense and annoyance to the evil villain in charge!) ready to be killed yet again.
Don’t expect a classic example of film-making. Don’t even expect much originality. Just expect Arnie doing what he does best – killing bad guys and then saying a dodgy one-liner.
Oh, and if you’re a fan of ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘Merle’ is in it, too. He’s always good to watch being bad, but the true stand-out role is a plastic child’s doll-toy which steals every scene (she was awesome – odd that we haven’t seen her career take off since!).