End of Days - *

End of Days

With Year 2000 fast approaching, you might expect a glut of armageddon films to flood the local theaters. However, for the most part, Hollywood has shown considerable restraint, and focused it’s Y2K angst into time-inspecific supernatural thrillers. However, a few end-of-the-world films are still slipping into general release, the most notable being Arnold Schwarzenegger’s apocalyptic thriller, End of Days. However, the end of days prove not to be all that impressive.

Three days before New Year’s 2000, Satan himself arrives in New York City. His goal: impregnate his chosen wife, a unsuspecting young woman named Christine York (Robin Tunney). From birth, she has been raised and guided along by a cadre of Satanists, who somehow forget to raise her as one of their own. Though she has been plagued by dreams of her destiny, she refuses to accept them.

But, since Satan has time to kill, he possesses the body of an investment banker (Gabriel Byrne), and enlists the services of a high-tech security firm for protection. Leading his team of bodyguards is none other than Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger), an ex-cop turned alcoholic (who, nonetheless, has managed to maintain his Schwarzenegger physique) after the tragic loss of his family.

Jericho and his partner, Chicago (Kevin Pollak), soon discover there’s something fishy about their new client. Slowly, they uncover the truth, and must act to prevent Christine York from ushering in Armageddon.

End of Days falls prey to an inconsistency that frequents many Year 2000 apocalyptic scenarios. In the movie’s mythology, Satan must take his bride between 11 PM and Midnight on New Year’s Eve, Eastern Standard Time. Of course, this time and date are completely arbitrary, having no significance whatsoever. Midnight in New York (or anywhere in the world, for that matter) is not exactly 2000 years from any specific event. The film jokingly acknowledges this flaw, but then proceeds to dig itself into an even deeper hole, by inventing some ridiculous pseudo-historical gobbledygook claiming the calendar itself was organized around this event. The film would have been better off just ignoring the blatant discrepancy.

This is just one example of the many, many plot holes which litter this movie. Not much makes sense here at all when you start thinking about it. In many of Schwarzenegger’s film, you have to disregard the plot and simply enjoy the action. However, the flaws in End of Days are so blatant they are hard to dismiss.

The action sequences throughout vary in quality, and none rank among Arnold’s best. An opening helicopter sequence seems to be an elaborate setup for an unusual stunt, which never is as impressive as it should be. Only a subway scene, later in the film, packs the punch usually associated with Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger is given a meatier role than usual, which doesn’t say much. He’s the only character in the film with any significant depth. All that means is that he gets to spend a few scenes moping over the loss of his wife and daughter, an emotional loss which is always distant for the audience. His grief consists solely of a scraggly beard shadow and a few minor quips about his alcoholism.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has slipped in the past few years. With the exception of Eraser, he hasn’t made a decent film in the past five years. End of Days doesn’t end the streak.

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