In the very near future,even the family pet can be cloned. But cloning humans is illegal - that is, until family man Adam Gibson arrives home from work to find a clone has replaced him. Taken from his family, Gibson must not only save himself, but the sinister events that engulf him...
Under the guidance of, say, David Cronenberg, The 6th Day might have been an existential sci-fi thriller that tries to smarten up its lean, lone-hero storyline with jibes at consumerism, capitalism and the odd little poke around in the political and philosophical implications of cloning. Unfortunately, Cronenberg didn't make it, leaving journeyman Roger Spottiswoode to make quite a fist of an intriguing premise.
Drawing a performance from Arnie that promises to redefine the current definition of wooden, Spottiswoode plays down the action in favour of misguided character development that culminates in the most lame buddy movie imaginable when man and clone finally meet. With Arnie at such a disadvantage, then, playing happy, concerned family man in a white-picket near-future suburb, you could be forgiven for expecting Spottiswoode to wrong-foot us with his villain - surely a holy terror to prey on Gibson's smalltown charm and naivety. But no. Like his lacklustre Bond flick Tomorrow Never Dies, The 6th Day also focuses on a sinister media baron, Drucker, whose Microsoft-style empire is a cover for the revolutionary and entirely illegal cloning lab at the centre of the whole intrigue. As Drucker, Goldwyn is a faceless non-entity, a far-too-subtle piece of casting to stand up against Arnie, whose apple-pie dad routine has rarely been cheesier.
Sure, the film raises some interesting questions about cloning and its place in life and society, but this is an Arnie movie, for God's sake, not Panorama,and it's hard to see his usual crowd buying it. After the terrible End Of Days, and now this, forget cloning - here's something really shocking: Arnie could well be unstoppable, after all.
Subtlety has never been Arnie's strong point and action has never been Roger Spottiswoode's. Together, they bring us the worst of both worlds with a clumsy sci-fi thriller that's never as clever as it wants to be, and never as dumb as it ought to be.