Thursday, July 15, 2010

A different sort of action move that misfires

End of Days (1999)
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunny, Kevin Pollack, Rod Steiger, and Udo Keir
Director: Peter Hyams
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Jericho Cane (Schwarzenegger), a world-weary detective, must fight against personal temptation, Satanists, a secret sect within the Catholic church,and Satan himself (Byrne) to protect a young woman named Christine (Tunny) and prevent the End of Days from occurring as the 20th century gives way to the 21st.

"End of Days" is a collage of cliched characters, stereotypes, and action scenes that resolve themselves pretty much as one would expect. It's to the supernatural thriller as "Predator" was to the monster movie, although not quite as expertly paced, nor as well acted. (While Gabriel Byrne makes for a great Satan, Schwarzenegger doesn't quite have the range that the part of Jericho Cane calls for--he can't pull off depressed OR religiously enraptured, and the role needs an actor who could have done both.)

The biggest weakness of "End of Days", which causes it to barely rate a Six, is that the director didn't know when it was time to start the climax of his movie. He seemed to feel obligated to cram in one more chase and explosion in the NYC subway even though dramatically the movie should have moved to its resolution once Jericho rescued Christine from the gathering of Satanists on New Year's Eve.

Although entertaining, and its creators deserve credit for attempting to make a different sort of action movie, "End of Days" is just too flawed to rise above average. You can easily save watching this movie until end-of-the-world mania comes back into style in 2011 and 2012.