End of Days

End of Days

D- Peter Hyams
USA 1999

Let's dispense with the fact that I'm not the only one who truly believes that the new millennium takes place as of 2001--it's a done deal well beyond this movie...

But for a year filled with such variety, "End of Days" is depressingly the same old thing--a Schwarzenegger "bang-bang" movie tricked up with supernatural trimmings and plenty of visuals.

The visuals, for the record, are just fine--director Peter Hyams once again serves as his own director of (widescreen) photography, and this is one of his most handsome productions. The acting isn't bad, either--much hype was made about Arnold wanting to play a "serious" role this time out, but he's let down by the script. It's not that he's a bad actor--I never believed that in the first place, to be honest--but the character supposedly written for him seems actually to have been inspired by Mel Gibson in the first "Lethal Weapon"--borderline suicidal psycho/man of action. And Gabriel Byrne gets all the best lines as Satan, since Satan gets all the best lines in any movie in which he appears. He, too, is fine--but the rules of what he can and cannot do are changed to fit the convenience of every scene. He's as unstoppable as the T-1000, but the automatic weapons never stop firing...

Nope--it's the script again. A completely superficial story that refuses to dig beneath its own surface. I remember well our previous debate over "Stigmata"--we argued over the film's agenda, but we agreed that it at least HAD one. This time out, we're once again given high-ranking Church officials willing to commit murder--but we also have Church elders who won't go that far for anything (in other words, we have it both ways, as a genuine exploration of the effects of religious phenomena is not what we're truly after here). Here, it's anything for the next "boo," (even the film's best scare telegraphed itself to me), the next Kevin Pollak wisecrack, or the next explosion.

I hope Peter Hyams commits himself to a sequel to "The Relic," as he did just fine with horror, action and overwhelming special effects there. He's still got quite the eye for his work, but nobody short of a dedicated screenwriter could have made this story any more exciting.

-Remo D



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