End of Days
Reviewed by Steve Crow
Rating: 6.5 Beans
rnold Schwarzenegger vs. Satan! Talk about a line to pitch a movie with. And you can really see that that's exactly what was going through the head of Arnold Marlowe, who had done only one previous movie (Air Force One), and one movie since then so far (Hollow Man). After Arnie's fought Vernon Wells, the Predator, kindergarten children, and a futuristic TV network, Satan would seem to be the only real adversary worthy of his caliber (you'll pardon the pun).
Jericho Cane (Schwarzenegger) is a depressed cop who gets involved in first stopping an assassination attempt by a tormented a priest on a businessman (Gabriel Byrne) and then people trying to kill Christine (Robin Tunney), a young woman plagued by visions. Turns out that the businessman is actually a vessel of Satan, who is on Earth at the end of the Millennium to impregnate Christine and have her give birth to his child, the Anti-Christ.
Again, I can't emphasize enough that this is an Arnold movie, with...well, the Adversary as his adversary. Fortunately, although Satan is more or less indestructible, He has legions of followers on Earth who are all too ready to pick up torches and baseball bats, march out into the streets, and let themselves be punched, kicked, shot, and blown up by Mr. Schwarzenegger. They've infiltrated every facet of society, to the point that you wonder if anyone in this movie is NOT ultimately a Satan worshiper. One also wonders why they sign on, given that the typical reward for following the Lord of Evil seems to be either being shot up by his adversary, have your family engage in orgies of the damned with the Lord of Flies, killed by the Adversary himself when he gets in a pissy mood when they inevitably fail in their assigned tasks, or some combination of all three
And this is just the first of any number of logical incoherencies that dog the movie. The implication seems to be that Gabriel Byrne's (unnamed) character is the chosen vessel for Satan on Earth...but the Lord of Darkness easily takes over another body at the end which will apparently serve his purposes just as well. Satan must have his child by midnight of the millennia exactly. In a line reminiscent of something similar in Gremlins 2, Jericho wonders if that's Eastern Standard Time: a perfectly reasonable question that is never answered.
Satan's powers seem to vary wildly. He can cause bicycle delivery boys to be run over by trucks, walk through flames, and generate flammable urine (don't ask), but seems ultimately powerless to deal with Jericho. There's a certain irony in the fact he sees Jericho as a kindred spirit, and Byrne plays a temptation sequence (to restore Jericho's wife and child to life) with Schwarzenegger for all he's worth. However, Arnold really isn't up to the repartee, resorting to essentially his dialogue from The Terminator: "Fuck you, asshole." And Satan thinks this is a kindred spirit?!?
In fact, Mr. Schwarzenegger seems at a total loss in End of Days except for scenes where he is committing mayhem on someone, or exchanging banter and one-liners with sidekick Chicago (Kevin Pollak - probably the second highpoint of the movie after Byrne). The look of dazed wonderment he gets on his face when he sees his resurrected wife and kids makes him look as if he has been hit in the forehead with a ball peen hammer.
The final ending (which boils down a climactic one-minute-to-midnight showdown, since Satan only has exactly one hour to impregnate his chosen wife and fritters away most of his time in the process) features a blow-out F/X bonanza compliments of Stan Winston, and a final, somewhat depressing conclusion. But it really doesn't make up for what is overall a rather silly combination of the typical Schwarzenegger action movie, end-of-the-Millennium paranoia, and vague theology.
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