At the end of the second Millenium, in the closing days of 1999, Satan visits New York in search of his bride to bear the Antichrist. Jericho Cane, a suicidal ex-cop whose family have died, begins to suspect that something is very wrong with the businessman he has been assigned to protect...
Jericho (Schwarzenegger) is a security specialist with a Martin Riggs complex, i.e. he's tragically lost his wife and daughter and he spends his off duty hours hitting the vodka and sucking on the end of his gun, never getting round to pulling the trigger. It's the end of the century in a couple of days, something that has got the Pope pretty agitated - for he knows that Satan himself is somewhere at large in the world, back to claim the woman 'chosen' for him 20 years earlier.
Rather conveniently, Satan has taken the form of a man (Byrne), whom Jericho is in charge of protecting. But when a tongue-less priest starts taking pot shots at Byrne, our hero suspects that something of a Biblical nature is up. Having tracked down the girl (Tunney), Jericho must keep her out of the clutches of the devil until midnight 2000 - or time's up for the rest of us.
There comes a point when watching End Of Days that you realise the plot is almost identical to that of Terminator 2 (1991) - Arnie as hero on the run protecting a woman who holds the key to the future of the world, firing lots of cool guns at an unstoppable foe that relentlessly keeps pursuing them, before eventually revealing his/its real non-human form. And then, of course, you click why this is the case - this is not the great Arnie comeback movie as touted; Arnie wants you to think he's never been away! And here it feels like he hasn't. True, there are a few more lines than he's usually capable of, a bit of character depth that he seems uncomfortable with (Arnie in tears shocker!) but, once the action kicks in, you know exactly where you are.
End Of Days is a fun, all-out action movie with a sexy millennial edge (sell-by date, January 1). Director Hyams is as workmanlike as ever though, so some of the action moments clunk a tad, and inconsistencies in the plot are generally avoided rather than explained - why were Arnie and co. guarding Byrne in the first place? Then again, we are dealing with a movie in which the central plot is basically, 'Satan's back - and he has to get laid by midnight!' so maybe such grievances are moot.
End Of Days is by no means T3, and it suffers from the inevitable comparisons it draws to T2, but it's Arnie doing what he still does well. Plus it's the only movie this century where you get to see Arnold Schwarzenegger getting a severe pummelling from Miram Margoyles - now <i>that's</i> fun.