The Sixth Day, 2000. Directed by Roger Spotiswoode. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, Wendy Crewson.

Synopsis: In the near future, cloning human beings is illegal. God created man on the sixth day and the laws covering cloning are called "sixth day" laws. That certainly doesn't stop the rich and the powerful from flaunting the laws, though. When star quarterback Johnny Phoenix is rendered a vegetable on the field, the owners of his $300 million contract aren't about to write off their investment, for instance. Illegal? Sure. Enter charter pilot Adam Gibson. He is accidentally cloned to cover the tracks of murdered and cloned billionaire Drucker. Unfortunately for him, the mistake isn't caught until Gibson is on to things. It seems that Drucker is in the business of getting the sixth day laws repealled so that he can corner the market on human cloning. Further, he has been building genetic defects into the clones he makes to make the clones beholden to him. Gibson learns all of this from Drucker's chief scientist, Dr. Weir, who has grave reservations about the uses to which his work is being put. Gibson accquires the recording of Drucker's consciousnes that will incriminat him in the whole conspiracy. Drucker kidnaps Gibson's family in order to compell him to turn over the tape. Instead, Gibson teams with himself to take Drucker down...

Unforgivable Lapses: Just one, here. One of the flunkies who continuously gets himself killed and resurrected through cloning is named Wiley, as in Wile E. Coyote. The filmmakers should be drawn and quartered for this. On the other hand, Adam's wife isn't named "Eve," so there is some justice...

Technology and Ethics: Just because we CAN let Arnold Schwarzenegger star opposite himself, doesn't mean that we SHOULD. This is clearly a case of man intruding on God's domain. Are they mad? Ack...Ahem. Actually, this film DOES raise some interesting questions about the ethics of biotechnology. Unfortunately, it doesn't address many of them in anything more than a superficial plot driven way. For instance: the transcribing of consciousness into a new clone doesn't grant continuity of consciousness. The final blackout for the dying clone is still final blackout. The film doesn't address this. In addition, the arguments against human cloning have the ring of religious dogma. I mean, really--"sixth day" laws? I doubt that this scenario is even likely under a Republican administration. Back in the seventies and early eighties, science fiction writer John Varley examined this issue from just about every possible angle. The filmmakers would have done well to take a look-see.

Filmmaking: I'm sure that this movie cost a lot of money (the Internet Movie Database claims that it was budgeted at $85M.), but it still looks like it was done on the cheap. It doesn't have any of the jaw-dropping set-pieces one expects from a Schwarzeneggerian epic and the only special effects of any pith and moment are the funky helicopters that Schwarzenegger's character flies. And, like most CGI effects, these aren't particularly convincing. The film is largely filmed in natural light and edited in a controlled manner, which is a relief--Roger Spottiswoode is an unpretentious director, after all. But SOME flare would be nice. The film wants to have something of the feel of Total Recall, but it ends up feeling more like The Running Man. Every time movies attempt to predict the gadgets and societies of the near future, they risk instantly dating the movie. I suspect they have done exactly that. Generally speaking, it's not anywhere close to Ahnuld's clunkiest movies--better than Commando and End of Days, for instance, but not even in the same league as True Lies. I kept waiting for a catch phrase--to no avail.

Every so often, I'm confronted with a movie that I think of in purely economic terms. I try not to do this, but sometimes it's inevitable. Was this movie worth full price? Well, probably not. Wait for cable? No. I'm sure that ALL movies should be seen on a big screen, even the bad ones. But, this one really ought to be a matinee....