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Film review: 6th Day, The

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Wait, I know what you're thinking: If a movie has two Arnold Schwarzeneggers, then it should also have at least twice as much action and feature perhaps twice as many of his typically bad one-liners.

But you'd be wrong.

While the sci-fi action movie "The 6th Day" does indeed feature two Ah-nults, it's only half the movie we've come to expect from the once-huge action star. In fact, if you wanted to mock the film's plot, you'd say that it's only a pale copy of his earlier, much better hits, especially "True Lies" and "Total Recall."

That's because the writing is so uninspired and the filmmaking so rushed and gimmicky that they undercut everything Schwarzenegger is trying to accomplish here — which includes "softening" the violence to open it up to younger audiences.

Still, if you just have to see a big-budget action movie — besides the superior "Charlie's Angels" — you could do a lot worse. .

As for the plot, it could be ripped from recent headlines. The setting is the near future, and cloning has been perfected by scientists, who are using it to reproduce beloved pets who have passed on.

One area where cloning is forbidden, however, is human reproduction, prohibited by so-called "6th-day" laws (a biblical reference). However, that hasn't stopped someone from cloning charter helicopter-pilot Adam Gibson (Schwarzenegger), who finds that another man has taken his place — one who looks just like him.

Before he can puzzle it out, though, he finds himself on the lam, running from cloned killers (including Michael Rooker and Sarah Wynter) trying to prevent him from getting to the truth.

What he's been able to piece together may have something to do with mysterious industrialist Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), who's been funding illegal cloning research by top scientist Griffin Weir (Robert Duvall).

But time is running out for Adam to prove his "identity." And if that isn't bad enough, his wife and daughter (Wendy Crewson and Taylor Anne Reid) have already accepted Adam's duplicate into their home.

The premise may not be completely original, but it would have been better served by another, more-straightforward director. Roger Spottiswoode ("Tomorrow Never Dies") favors gimmicks like slow-mo and quick-cut edits, and he overuses flashback sequences to the point of irritation.

To make matters worse, he's working with a script (by first-timers Cormac and Marianne Wibberly) that has its thought-provoking moments but isn't nearly thoughtful enough.

So that puts the burden squarely on Arnie, but he's only able to carry this material so far with his own broad shoulders. Of the supporting cast, the only other person who really brings the film any spark is Michael Rapaport, who is critically underused (the film really suffers after his character disappears).

"The 6th Day" is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence (laser blasts and explosions, as well as some brutal hand-to-hand combat), scattered strong profanity (including one utterance of the so-called "R-rated" curse word), gore, brief partial male and female nudity, crude humor and a brief, discreet sex scene. Running time: 124 minutes.

E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com