For a movie about cloning, it's only appropriate that The 6th Day, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is instilled with a strong sense of déjà vu, namely from Arnold's previous "Who am I?" outing, Total Recall. In that movie, Arnold is a normal Joe who discovers that his entire reality has been co-opted by an evil conspiracy, and has to take his life back by force. The same premise applies here for Roger Spottiswoode's clever if overlong sci-fi thriller--Arnold thinks he's a regular guy leading a regular life, until a twist of fate puts him on the lam from a vast conspiracy that's replaced him with a clone. While he's trying to evade the evil genetics corporation--and its trendy, deadly, clone-friendly assassins (who don't care how many times they're killed: there's more where that came from)--his double is snuggling at home with his wife and daughter. And new legislation outlaws the existence of human clones, so somebody's got to go. But who gets to be live and who gets to be the dead Memorex man?
Why does said genetics corporation want to clone people? How does the kindly scientist (Robert Duvall) fit in? What's the mystery behind the slick billionaire (Tony Goldwyn) who runs everything? It's all kind of irrelevant in the end, as long as it provides a chance for Arnold to indulge in some energetic mayhem and explosive action. What distinguishes The 6th Day is its sneaky, humorous--and chilling--look at the near future, taking everyday technological advances and turning them up just a couple notches, envisioning an era with cloned pets, virtual girlfriends, and computers running most everything, from the refrigerator to your car. Arnold is supposed to be a throwback to the "real" world--you can tell because he cherishes his vintage, navigation-system-free Cadillac--but as usual, he just brings his behemoth presence to the role and not much else. Still, he's a friendly enough hero, and he rolls with the punches (literally) all the way through to the end. Too bad the film overstays its welcome by about half an hour--a little shorter and it could have been a breezy sci-fi/action romp. With scene stealers Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, and Rod Rowland as the trio of cloned assassins who always come back--again and again. --Mark Englehart