A retired elite Black Ops Commando launches a one man war against a group of South American criminals who have kidnapped his daughter to blackmail him into starting a revolution and getting an exiled dictator back into power.
Mark L. Lester
Rae Dawn Chong,
On December 28th, 1999, the citizens of New York City are getting ready for the turn of the millennium. However, the Devil decides to crash the party by coming to the city, inhabiting a man's body, and searching for his chosen bride, a 20-year-old woman named Christine York. [If he bears her child between 11:00 PM and midnight on New Year's Eve], the world will end, and the only hope lies within an atheist ex-cop named Jericho Cane, who no longer believes in God because of the murder of his wife and daughter. Written by
Jumps back and forth from logic-free concepts to formulaic action. **1/2 (out of four)
END OF DAYS / (1999) **1/2 (out of four)
By Blake French:
"End of Days" is the first movie to seriously argue that "666" the numerical sign of the devil, is actually a 999 upside-down. Since the film was first released in 1999, the movie could not resist to throw in that little contrivance. What can you expect from a movie when its premise is based on the concept that once every thousand years if Satan impregnates a woman during the hour from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. on the last day of the millennium, she will give birth to the anti-Christ who will bring the world to an end? I am already thinking that the movie is vulnerable to logic (is the time given in Eastern Standard?) and it will make its own limitations at the convenience of plot. "End of Days" is particularly graphic in its use of violence, but never really scares us, even with such a horrifying premise like the end of humanity.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has not made a good movie in a long time. First "Jingle all the Way," then "Batman & Robin," now we have a movie that bounces back and forth between action and concept. There are the standard "action movie scenes," where a person sways from a helicopter in mid air, where a chase scene takes place at incredible heights, where someone grasps to a high window ledge, where a subway train crashes, where a massive fire erupts in Manhattan, and so on. There are also the false shocko moments followed with a sudden burst of loud, startling music: the its just a cat scene, its just another cop scene, its just a dream scene, its just your imagination scene, he's not really dead scene, and its just maggots suddenly growing out of an apple scene. The movie is also bound by philosophy. The action is focused towards Schwarzenegger saving the world, but he cannot do that all by himself, can he? Sure he can, if he can stop Satan (Gabriel Bryne), from impregnating Christine (Robin Tunney), who was born under the religious sign of a passing comet -- and based on her birth twenty years earlier during the sighting of that comet is the chosen mother of Satan's child.
"End of Days" begins with an intriguing, although plausible, premise. The bizarre events that transpire a few days before the end of the millennium immediately inspire our curiosity. The action sequences are also fine, intensified by thrilling music and a fast paced style. The movie opens on a good note, and the remainder of the action sequences are also quite exciting. The scenes also inspire a few questions. Satan kills many people in this movie, people just like the hero, so why doesn't he just finish Arnold Schwarzenegger off like he does with so many other characters. On the other side, Schwarzenegger shoots the devil, who pulls his shirt up so we can see the bullet holes immediately healing. When using a machine-gun, the ammunition flings the Prince of Darkness backward and puts him down before he attacks again. There are simply no rules to abide by here.
"End of Days" does not have a whole lot of explanation; it plays sort of like your run of the mill action picture with the gimmick of the week. There just is not a lot of true involvement or engagement after the premise. We do care about Arnold Swarzzenegger's character, and Gabrial Bryne is an especially convincing Satan. He is devilish, with fiendish appeal, proving that tranquillity is the most terrifying evil. Al Pachino did an equally diabolical job in "The Devils Advocate," but Bryne is even more terrifying. Robin Tunney has nothing to do but exchange shameless subtext with Schwarzenegger's character. ("You're better than everyone else, just remember that." "I don't want to be better or worse, I just want to be normal.") She is more of a plot device than an actual character.
Excellent convincing set designs appear frequently, especially near the end where the characters wander through dark chambers and dim hallways. Cinematography also adds a nice touch to the suspenseful, mysterious atmosphere, all done by the movie's director, Peter Hyams ("The Relic"). It is too bad such good filmmaking does not have a story fit enough to back it up. One more thing I just have to mention: Why do the cops always show up at the end of the movie, after the action is over. I am getting very tired of that.
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