Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The 6th Day (2000)


It's 2015, and cloning has become commonplace.  Pets, organs, plants--pretty much every biological entity can now be cloned.  Except, of course, for human beings.  Human cloning is highly illegal, thanks to a failed experiment a few years back and the ensuing '6th day' laws forbidding human cloning (the 6th day being, of course, the day that God created man).  Not that these laws keep it from happening--as pilot Adam Gibson (the Governator) (get it? Adam? 6th day? get it?) discovers when he arrives home to find himself already inside with his wife and kids.  He's been cloned, and now the people who cloned him are trying to kill him.  Can Adam figure out who did this to him before it's too late?  (Answer: Yes.)

This is a later Arnold pic, with lots of explosions and action (though perhaps not as much carnage as in younger days--see, e.g. Commando).  And with twice as many Arnolds, you know it's going to be fun. The clones here are not just clones--they are imprinted with all the memories of the original.  They don't even know that they are clones.  So really, the movie offers a form of resurrection; you can be born again as a clone.  Unless, of course, you never died in the first place . . .

The ethical issues here are quite interesting, and the movie doesn't come down strongly on the issue one way or another.  The conclusion seems to be that people (or some people, at any rate) are awful, and will use cloning technology to do awful, awful things.  However, the technology itself is not clearly condemned.  (Early in the film, Arnold is leery of getting his pet cloned, but by the end of the film, he has connected with his own clone and seems willing to accept cloned pets as well.) 

I have to admit, the whole cloning thing freaks me out under the best of circumstances.  The idea of buying a cloned pet in order to avoid 'traumatizing' your child by telling them the truth and teaching them about life and death . . . that's just crazy.  Of course it's hard for kids to adjust to the death of a pet.  But they do.  And they have for a long, long time.  Really, I suspect parents are unwilling to engage in what will undoubtedly be a difficulty--but ultimately beneficial--conversation.  Take the path of least resistance, even if it means your kids won't be able to cope with the real world.  Plus, the idea of cloning your pet so you can feel like the pet never dies . . . so creepy.  And don't even get me started on the SimPal (the dolls the kids play with in the movie).  Add in the giant tanks of adult fetuses a la The Matrix (part of the accelerated cloning process), and the creep factor on this one is pretty high. 

I was particularly struck by the paradoxical fact that as people gained victory over death, life itself became meaningless.  They were quick to kill, knowing that they could always have a clone up and running in a few hours.  The result is an ever decreasing regard for the sanctity of life, at least in the eyes of evil tycoon Michael Drucker, who is more than willing to assume the responsibility of deciding who lives and who dies.

Speaking of Drucker, Tony Goldwyn--has he ever played a good guy?--is spot on as the creepy, unscrupulous mastermind.  The same goes for the always unsettling Michael Rooker.  Robert Duvall is sadly wasted as the good-hearted scientist responsible for the cloning advances, and Michael Rapaport--as Arnold's best friend--just sort of hangs around the fringes of the film.  Really, this movie rests on the charisma of Arnold, Goldwyn, and Rooker.  Which honestly just might be enough.  Especially with two Arnolds. 

Bottom line:  a fun, albeit creepy, movie about the ethics of cloning.  And also explosions.  And Arnold.  Let's face it--you probably already know if you'll like this movie. 

FUN FACT:  Arnold received 3 Razzie nominations for this film--worst actor (for his performance as Real Adam), worst supporting actor (for his performance as Clone Adam), and worst screen couple (for both).  Fortunately, that was the year Battlefield Earth swept the Razzies, so Arnold didn't actually win anything.

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