It's unfair to compare "The 6th Day" to "Total Recall". In fact, I'm guessing that the only reason comparisons are made is because they both star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The future portrayed in "The 6th Day" is less like that of Total Recall and in fact closer to that in Back To The Future Part II: Great improvements in technology exist, but the world itself hasn't vastly changed. It's not a utopian society, nor is it an post-apocalyptic slum. People still drive automobiles. They still snowboard. Bananas are available in nacho flavor, but some people still prefer the old-fashioned kind. And pets still die. Well, sort of...
Practical cloning has become a reality in this future, and with a brain scan called a 'syncording', the up-to-the-minute thoughts and memories of an organism can be uploaded into the new clone. "It will even remember the old tricks you taught it," says a salesman at Repet, a company that specializes in cloning dead animals. So why can't humans be cloned? The 6th Day Laws, which banned human cloning after a failed accident, impose a minumum sentence of forty years in jail. Any clone found has no rights, and is immediately terminated. That's where the story begins.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Adam Gibson, who together with his partner Hank (Michael Rapaport), run a charter business for snowboarders. When Gibson's dog dies (on his birthday no less), Hank offers to switch places with him so that he can go to Repet. Gibson is an old-fashioned guy -- adamantly against cloning, he wants his daughter to experience life and death the way God intended -- but still, he agrees to check it out for his daughter's sake. A few hours later, the fun begins...
Gibson returns home to see that his birthday party has already started, and a man who looks a lot like him is eating his birthday cake and making out with his wife. Things take an even worse turn when a group of agents arrive and start trying to kill him. Desperate to stay alive, get back his family, and generally find out what the hell is going on, Gibson starts putting the pieces together. All signs lead to Dr. Weir (Robert Duvall), and his associate Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), who have been in the business of cloning humans covertly for some time now. Both seek to legalize human cloning, but for vastly different reasons. They've got a lot riding on the repeal of the 6th Day Laws, and because Gibson has seen his own clone, he's a threat that must be dealt with.
I was rather impressed with the film overall. It had less action that I'd expected (based on the commercials), but character development was a lot deeper than the usual Arnold film, and it was a lot funnier than I thought it would be. I loved the fact that when the agents chasing Gibson get killed, they're simply recloned (at a cost of 1.2 million). In fact, after being recloned, one of the agents is simply pissed because she'll need to get her ears pierced again, and her hair treatment costs a lot (note: the hair treatments do look nice). Adding to the humor (for me at least), was Michael Rooker, who I can't look at anymore without thinking about chocolate-covered pretzels.
Without giving too much away, it's fair to say that two Schwarzeneggers are better than one. And aside from the humor, there are good number of twists to keep the plot moving, and lots of really cool visuals (although I thought the cloning process was really creepy). I'd say its the best Arnold film since True Lies... maybe even since T2.
"The 6th Day"
MPAA Rating: PG-13
General U.S. Release: November 17, 2000
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, Michael Rapaport, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter