- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2000

Three out of four stars

TITLE: "The 6th Day"

RATING: PG-13 (Arguably a borderline call, given the occasional profanity, sexual innuendo and graphic violence, punctuated by morbid and gory humor)

CREDITS: Directed by Roger Spottiswoode

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes

''The 6th Day" is the most diverting, playfully outrageous science-fiction adventure romp since "Demolition Man."

It also represents a welcome improvement over such recent futuristic whiffs as "The Hollow Man" and "Red Planet."

Set perhaps two or three decades into the 21st century, "Day" envisions a potentially treacherous but nonetheless thriving and inventive future.

The inhabitants of a Northwestern urban area in "The 6th Day," which borrows Vancouver as its anonymous backdrop, can take several domestic enhancements for granted: smart refrigerators equipped with computers that allow the user to place a grocery order at the touch of a finger; vehicles that can be operated manually or on autopilot; fluid television reception that can appear on any surface of the house.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is introduced as the leading man while gazing portentously into his bathroom mirror, which also becomes a television monitor.

As befits an allegory that harks back to Genesis, Chapter 1, for its title, "The 6th Day" calls its hero Adam.

The mirror shot hints at the emergence of a duplicate Adam. The prototype is a genial and affectionate family man, Adam Gibson, a former fighter pilot who works for a charter service, flying spiffy new Whispercraft choppers.

We meet him on his birthday, when sinister events prevent him from enjoying the party planned by his wife, Natalie (Wendy Crewson), and daughter, Clara (Taylor Anne Reid).

A switch of assignments with his best friend, Hank Morgan (Michael Rapaport), leads to a case of mistaken identity and the appearance of an Adam Gibson clone, forcing the original Adam to run for his life while being pursued by several hit clones.

Although "The 6th Day" is not derived from a story by the late Philip K. Dick, confirmed moviegoers will recognize some familiar aspects from "Blade Runner" and "Total Recall," which were adapted from his fiction.

Written by a promising husband-and-wife team, Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, and directed with plenty of zest by Roger Spottiswoode, "The 6th Day" anticipates a social system that has accepted a certain amount of cloning while outlawing the duplication of humans.

Naturally, this so-called Sixth Day Law is being subverted by the villains of the movie. Mr. Schwarzenegger's Adam is placed inadvertently in the position of exposing and wrecking their plans, which promise little in the way of lasting gratification for human or clone alike.

The movie's strongest element is pictorial elaboration of the near future. In addition to the smart fridges and cars, pro football equipment and stadiums enjoy a fresh electronic veneer.

Malls teem with holographic advertisements and distractions. It's legal to clone pets to spare children the sorrow of their death. Adam considers entrusting the infirm family dog, Oliver, to a company called RePet, although he dislikes the idea.

Impulsively, he wanders away from a high-pressure salesman at RePet and ends up buying a really nightmarish "life-size" doll, SimPal Cindy, who becomes an object of macabre abuse and ridicule while Adam is trying to evade murder.

Virtual-reality gizmos loom large in the "6th Day" future. Mr. Rapaport possesses what probably will become an authentic hot item among household appliances: a virtual bimbo, permitting even the loneliest guy to be flattered and soothed by an insatiable electronic sex slave.

Precinct houses can conjure up virtual attorneys or shrinks. One gag showcases a genial, ineffectual 911 Web site designed to keep urgent callers selecting from a menu of options until the urgency is thoroughly dissipated.

The weakest elements of the show turn out to be the chases and shootouts, so prolonged that they begin to look like make-work spectacles for the stunt and demolition teams.

Mr. Schwarzenegger's eventual juggling of the two Adams, destined to double-team the bad guys, is a deadpan comic spectacle that defies rivalry. Moviegoers will find it a challenge to sense whether the star's teeth-clenching poses come from Adam 1 or Adam 2.

It has been a while since there has been a truly enjoyably supercharged Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle.

"The 6th Day" restores the big guy to a formfitting entertainment.

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