“At the end of the century, Satan visits New York in search of a bride. It’s up to an ex-cop who now runs an elite security outfit to stop him.”
Director: Peter Hyams
Writers: Andrew W. Marlowe
Staring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak
Release Date: November 24, 1999
Whoof. Tough way to end the millennium for Arnold Schwarzenegger. End Of Days is a classified as a horror and thriller on IMDB, but the only suspense in the story comes in waiting for the next piece of bad acting from the movie’s star. Schwarzenegger’s typical job isn’t delivering deep emotional resonance or acting rationally scared and in End Of Days, his limits was illuminated as part of a bad movie experience as a whole.
Jericho (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a downtrodden atheist security guard who finds himself in a battle with the devil who has come to earth in an attempt to open the gates of hell. Satan (Gabriel Byrne), known as “The Man” in the movie, must find Christine (Robin Tunney) and impregnate her to accomplish his quest to end the world as we know it.
An absolutely absurd premise is not helped by very poor execution. End Of Days has no fluidity or cohesive theme. There are sequences of massive explosions with slow-motion walk-aways, but then there are scenes attempting to pull emotional puppet strings; these two things just do not mix at all. Throw in abrupt cuts away to a Vatican setting and bad CGI and End Of Days is a mess.
For those that want to say “it’s 1999, of course the CGI is bad.”, I ask you to watch End Of Days and compare it to The Matrix, both of which came out in 1999. It feels like a decades worth of difference.
The most off-putting sequence came in Jericho’s apartment when he is confronted and promptly tempted by Satan. Schwarzenegger is pinned up in a dialogue duel with the only above-average part of the movie; Gabriel Byrne is confident in himself as the devil and is without a doubt the strongest part of the movie. Byrne slithers methodically and seductively throughout. He is never in a hurry. When The Man is in Jericho’s apartment and tempting him with happiness in exchange for Christine’s location, the chasm in character styles and the acting is highlighted in bright yellow sharpie. In terms of my own viewing of Devil movies, Byrne is by no means a top half portrayal, but he is still the best part of End Of Days.
Oh, should we mention the character of Christine, the woman being pined over? No, we shouldn’t. There is nothing to her. She is an empty vessel. Jericho could just be protecting a random sheep and it’d be the same.
The tagline for End Of Days is “The ultimate battle of good versus evil.” but in all reality it’s just an ultimate battle in focus and channel flipping restrain.
STANKO RATING: D (1.5/5 Stars)
P.S. If you look at Schwarzenegger’s IMDB movie list, the end of the 1990’s and early 2000’s was not the strongest run. Batman & Robin (1997), End Of Days, The Sixth Day (2000) and Collateral Damage (2002) is a rough, rough go. It is not a surprise that he had to go back to the well for Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003) to get some reputation and money back.
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