Monday, June 19, 2017

Arnold’s Terminator Exorcist, or Thoughts on End of Days

Arnold Schwarzenegger always seemed more comfortable with the sci-fi genre, it was very good to his career, but he did get his start in supernatural fantasy action movies with Conan the Barbarian (1982), still one of his most beloved and iconic characters.  End of Days (1999) still seemed like an odd choice, coming after Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin (1997) it was one of Arnold’s darkest roles.  As Jericho Caine, the emotionally broken, suicidal ex-cop bodyguard who finds himself trying to stop the birth of the Antichrist on New Year’s Eve of 1999, the movie seemed more downbeat and pessimistic than what audiences had come to expect from an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.
Don’t get me wrong, you still get two movies in one; Arnold’s extensive gun fetish, explosions, and scenes of Arnold zip-lining from helicopters, in addition to your generic satanic conspiracy, catholic mumbo-jumbo prophecies and rogue priests from secret Vatican councils.  Gabriel Byrne is perfectly cast as a charming devil, or rather, the charming devil, who Arnold fights with his trusty Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine gun.  It goes about as well as you’d expect.
Also with Robin Tnney, CCH Pounder, Udo Kier and Miriam Margoyles, who will always be Nursie from Blackadder to me.  The role of Jericho Caine was originally written for Tom Cruise (I guess in the same sense that Beverly Hills Cop was written for Stallone).  Director Peter Hyams was also no stranger to science fiction, with movies including Capricorn One (1978), Outland (1981), 2010 (1984) Timecop (1994), and The Relic (1997).  End of Days fits in well with the general 1999 millennium panic zeitgeist and dovetails nicely with Keanu Reeve’s The Devil’s Advocate (1997) and Johnny Depp’s The Ninth Gate (1999).

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