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Film / The 6th Day

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Smile for the camera, Mr. Gibson!

"God created man in His own image. And behold it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, and Michael Rooker, this 2000 Science Fiction movie takes place in a not-too-distant future where limited cloning technology has come into use for a number of things, from curing diseases to re-animating your pet to cloning fish as a food supply. However, cloning people is illegal. Arnie plays helicopter charter pilot Adam Gibson, a man who unintentionally gets involved with a human cloning cabal, who will kill him to protect their secrets.

The title comes from the top quote from the Book of Genesis, which ends up being plot-relevant. The official title is "The 6th Day," not "The Sixth Day," changed to prevent it from being confused with another film that came out the year before.

The 6th Day contains the following tropes:

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  • 20 Minutes into the Future:
    • The movie takes place "Sooner Than You Think." On the "The Future is Coming" DVD featurette, Schwarzenegger states that the film takes place in 2015.
    • The scene in the parking structure features a junked-out Volkswagen New Beetle (which had just been introduced in 1997, three years before the film's release).
  • Actor Allusion: When Adam leaves the RePet shop he says "I might be back."
  • Adam and/or Eve: Like his biblical namesake, Adam Gibson has life created out of a piece of him - namely his genes (and memory backup).
  • Affably Evil: Michael Drucker; while he's quite ruthless in protecting the secret that he's a clone — understandable since cloning is illegal and he'd be considered legally dead, if not executed — his human cloning technology could change the face of human suffering and save many lives, as he himself notes, and the technology is already used in-story for organ transplants and to solve depleted fish stocks. He's even lobbying aggressively to get the law against cloning changed, working within the system so that he can do things legally. That being said, he routinely murders people before replacing them with clones, sometimes for purely profit-driven reasons.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: The Luddite who killed Drucker and Hank and arrives to Hank's apartment to kill the Hank clone gets hit in the stomach with his own gun when he struggles with Adam. Adrenaline allows him to fight Adam off (while still screaming in pain) and run away to the parking lot, but when he tries to drive off the shock and blood loss have already taken their toll and he crashes.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Marshall has his leg blown off by Adam, prompting his furious rant about his new boots being ruined.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: While Drucker's speech about the 'merits' of human cloning appeared mostly convincing, it falls apart when Adam bluntly asks him who gets to actually choose who can be cloned. Drucker's response that he's stepping in God's shoes is pretty telling.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Just before he finds out he is the clone, Gibson hates his clone for sleeping with his wife, eating his birthday cake, and smoking his cigars.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Wiley shows us exactly why you check your target before you fire, when his itchy trigger finger results in him missing and blowing a hole in Drucker's stomach.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The legislation that outlawed cloning is known collectively as "Sixth Day Laws," in reference to the above verse.
  • Automated Automobiles: Adam's friend, Hank, can briefly be seen driving one before switching to manual control. Adam also has remote-control for his hybrid chopper-jets, which is important later on.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill:
    • Adam makes his way deep into Drucker's HQ by acting like he belongs there, making use of a Borrowed Biometric Bypass, and by tricking a guard into letting him pass with his gun by pretending his package actually contains a flesh-eating virus.
    • Later on, he pulls it again, in the same building no less, by landing on the helipad and using his prior travel contract with Drucker to bluff his way inside under the pretense of picking up his client.
    • Marshall also manages to pass himself as an authorised person when attempting to retrieve Adam from a police station, though given that they're able to access the police database, it's likely he has fake credentials to back him up.
  • Big Bad: Michael Drucker.
  • Birthday Beginning: Ignoring the Johnny Phoenix prologue, the story begins on Adam Gibson's birthday. Which is interestingly also when Adam Gibson's clone was "born".
  • Blatant Lies: Marshall makes some rather laughable attempts to pass off actually dead people as merely unconscious, in particular trying to convince people that the obviously Neck Snapped Wiley will be fine.
  • Body Backup Drive: Drucker's cloning technology allows a complete backup of a person's mind to be taken, which can then be uploaded into a new clone if needed.
  • Body Horror: Drucker ends up in an unfinished clone, since his previous iteration was dying and didn't have the time to copy into a clone that was properly formed. To further cement the horror and Drucker's JerkAssedness, his fresh, malformed clone then proceeds to strip his still-living predecessor of his clothes, not even waiting until the mortally-wounded man dies.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Adam uses one of Talia's clones' thumbs to get into Drucker's headquarters after blowing it off with his gun.
  • Boom, Headshot!: To prevent below Brain Uploading, the characters will have their brains destroyed to prevent cloning.
  • Brain Uploading: Upon death or near death, the most recent contents of your memory can be uploaded to a new clone; the upside being that you'll continue to live in one way. The catch, however, is that it won't be you. Your clone will look, think and act like you in every way, but your consciousness — your unique, individual perception of an environment — won't be transferred. In other words, you'll still die hoping that copy of you will carry out what was once your life.
  • Brick Joke: Adam tells Drucker to clone himself while his previous iteration is still alive, so he can "fuck [himself]." When circumstances conspire to make this happen, Adam knocks them both out in such a way that one collapses on the other, leading him to quip that he didn't mean it literally.
  • Broken Masquerade: Clone Adam's existence alone is enough to break the masquerade, which is why he's such a threat to Drucker.
  • The Brute: Vincent is physically the strongest of Drucker's four henchmen; with effort he can carry an unconscious Wiley.
  • Captured on Purpose: Adam mounts a brazen assault on Drucker's office, making a scene and blasting every camera he can spot. When they finally catch him and scan his memories, they realize he's poked huge gaps in their system and now his double, who followed quietly, has infiltrated the building while they were distracted.
  • Came Back Wrong:
    • Drucker inserts lethal congenital diseases into many of his clones, as a way of controlling them or their loved ones. The diseases kill them in only a few years, forcing them to keep coming back to Drucker, who simply re-clones them and starts all over again.
    • Wiley keeps having phantom pains from previous deaths.
    • Drucker at the end, whose new clone wasn't quite done cooking.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The remote-pilot feature of the choppers comes in handy when Adam needs a distraction.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Tripp is introduced as a customer of Adam and Hank's about to head out on a snowboarding trip. His murder of Drucker and Hank inadvertently sets the plot of the film in motion.
  • Clone by Conversion: Zig Zagged. "Blank" clones are grown which have all identifying characteristics stripped from their genome. When a specific person needs to be cloned, their DNA is overlayed on the blank.
  • Clone Degeneration: Most of the clones are actually perfect copies with the memories of the original uploaded into them, but in the climax the villain is forced to clone himself again before he dies of a gutshot. Adam then sabotages the cloning tanks which creates an incomplete, embryonic-looking clone of Drucker. Dr. Weir also alludes to an early experiment years before wherein scientists unsuccesfully tried to clone a human, the result of which was eventually put out of its misery.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Ultimately proven correct in the case of many individuals, including Adam himself. He ultimately goes into business with the original, setting up another branch of their company in Argentina.
  • Cloning Body Parts: The benefits of organ cloning are used as a plea to try to drive down the "Sixth Day Laws" that forbid the cloning of complete human beings. In reality, the owner of the cloning corporation only wants to achieve immortality via uploading his memories into the brains of Expendable Clones.
  • Cloning Gambit: Unusual in that it's a voluntary activity, at least for the villains.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: The title is part of a Biblical quote, as noted above.
  • Cool Plane: Adam and Hank's charter company owns a pair of helicopters that can transform into jet planes in mid-flight.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: A variation when Adam leads his family to safety, but urges two guards to surrender quietly since he doesn't want to subject his daughter to horrible violence and then orders "daddy's friends" to tell his little girl to have a nice flight.
  • Creepy Doll: Adam buys an animatronic doll that wallows about in the deepest part of the Uncanny Valleyinvoked. The bad guys take the doll with them and find it extremely unnerving. Which leads to them eventually destroying it.
  • Dead Pet Sketch: RePet is essentially this up to eleven. Pet died? Clone it. Good as new and your kid never suspects a thing. The film opens with Adam being forced by his wife to get the dog cloned, despite his reluctance. In a strange twist, the clone ultimately decides against the procedure and gets a Sim Pal instead, while the original decides to go with the cloned pet.
  • Decoy Protagonist: A unique take on this as viewers are led to think they're following the original Adam trying to get his life back when The Reveal (or, really, The Un-Twist) shows they've actually been following Clone Adam the whole time.invoked
  • Determinator: Drucker. By the end of the movie one of him has been shot in the chest and the other is in a half-formed body. And neither of him is going to let that stop them.
  • The Dragon: Marshall to Drucker.
  • Disney Villain Death: Drucker's final death.
  • Electronic Telepathy: A variant. Once a backup of someone's mind has been taken, their visual and auditory memory can be played back on computer systems, in essence allowing a person's mind (but not their thoughts) to be read.
  • Energy Weapon: The "foosh gun" is a chemical laser handgun; while it has a visible beam, there's a catchback in that flames vent from the sides of the handgun as waste gas from the chemical reaction is expelled.
  • Eternal Prohibition: Several of Adam's customers are spooked when they hear Drucker insists on Adam and Hank taking a drug test, until Adam reassures them that only the pilots are being tested. Adam's wife, Natalie, also hilariously suggests her and Clara's abduction is for smoking cigars.
    Natalie:: Is this because of the cigars?!
  • Evil is Petty: After Vincent and Talia break into the Gibson home in an attempt to kidnap Adam's family and not finding them, Vincent frustratedly trashes part of their kitchen and steals one of their beers. And leaves their fridge door open.
  • Evil Luddite:
    • Tripp kills Drucker's entire entourage in the beginning, thus setting off the plot. Just in case we might try to sympathize, he goes and kills Hank again later, just for being a clone. Mind you, he is responsible for Hank being a clone, a fact Hank himself is ignorant of.
    • Subverted by Adam himself. While he objects to cloning people and calls out Drucker for playing god, he clarifies that he doesn't think technology in of itself is evil, just that Drucker cannot be trusted with so much power.
  • Expendable Clone:
    • Both subverted since clones are considered the same person as before, and played straight when several mooks are somewhat more reckless than they might otherwise be, since if they die they can be brought back using another clone. Drucker does point out that each clone costs $1.2 million after the team suffers many deaths over a couple days.
    • Played for laughs: after Marshall has just had his leg shot off starts screaming angrily about his new boots being ruined!invoked Talia also complains that she had to pierce her ears again and that her hair treatments are very expensive.
    • After Wiley shoots Drucker's latest clone, Drucker tells the other mooks not to bring Wiley back anymore.
  • Fingore: Adam shoots Talia's hand, severing some fingers. He uses the thumb on biometric scanners soon thereafter.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Tripp's importance to the plot before the reveal is foreshadowed by the several lingering camera shots.
    • Hank brings up an important point when Adam takes him to his house to show that a clone has taken over his life: How does he know that the other Adam is the clone?
    • Drucker complains that it costs a lot of money to clone his minions every time so they better prove that they are worth the investment. In the climax, he specifically orders that one of them not be cloned again when he accidentally shoots Drucker.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Used for 911 calls of all things.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Sarah Wynter's bare breast is visible for one or two frames as she sits up as the newest clone of Talia Elsworth.
  • The Fundamentalist: Tripp, a religious anti-cloning fundamentalist, who murders clones for being "abominations", and is more than happy to murder any innocent person who gets in his way to stop Drucker.
  • Future Copter: Arnold's transforming jet copters, which can lock the rotors into place to become wings for high-speed cruising. Oddly enough, the far wealthier villain travels in a far more mundane Real Life helicopter.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The original Drucker is this to the film.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: A vaguely alluded to early cloning experiment, producing something that was thereafter mercy killed, is among the reasons for the Sixth Day Laws.
  • Happily Married: Adam and his wife Natalie. With their adorable daughter Clara and their dog Oliver, they make one big happy family.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Kind of. Dr. Weir seems generally good, but he has knowingly gone along with the underground cloning operation (though he's horrified by the suggestion that Drucker's mooks are trying to kill/threaten Adam and his family). He then decides to help Adam after discovering that Drucker gave the clones, including Weir's wife, congenital defects to shorten their lifespans and thus make sure they'd have an incentive not to sell him out.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Drucker has Adam's wife and daughter taken hostage in order to ensure the return of the backup of his mind, which Adam stole from his lab for evidence and as an insurance policy.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Wiley does this several times, to the point Drucker after being fatally shot himself by Wiley decides to kill him and not clone ever again.
  • I Have Your Wife: Drucker does this to ensure the return of his stolen mind upload, and to prevent Adam from going to the police with it as evidence of human cloning.
  • Immortality: One of Drucker's intentions with cloning technology is to conquer death.
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: Significantly overlaps with Expendable Clone, since the clone is considered the same person and an extension of their life.
  • Info Dump: A few examples, including Drucker giving a Lecture as Exposition, and in particular a sales pitch at a RePet store explaining pretty much the entire cloning process and even clarifying how the clones can be produced so quickly.
  • Insecurity Camera: Subverted; there's a reason Adam comes in shooting all the cameras!
  • I Say What I Say: Adam Gibson teams up with his clone. They're mixing up some thermite and one of them decides to test-burn some of it. They watch as it burns through the table.
    Adam Gibson(s): Cool.
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: Talia has it redyed a different color each life. Its also apparently done by an expensive beautician.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: The reason why Drucker tries to have Adam killed.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Adam's friend, Hank, has an... interesting virtual companion.
  • Lack of Empathy: Drucker’s fine words about cloning as a means of extending life fall apart when his next clone is activated in a partially-formed state while the previous Drucker isn’t dead yet, the ‘new’ Drucker stripping his predecessor of his clothes and attempting to convince Adam that his vendetta is with the other Drucker whereas the newly-created clone technically hasn’t done anything to Adam himself.
  • Legally Dead: One of the reasons why Drucker is so keen to keep the fact that he's a clone secret. As the law is written, he's already legally dead and thus his assets would be seized. The other is because he would also likely be destroyed. While the case he cites apparantly refers to a horribly-mutated prototype that was given a Mercy Kill, one can understand why he wouldn't want to take that chance.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Adam Gibson. His first name references the first man created in Abrahamic faiths, and his surname is likely a shout out to cyberpunk's "grandfather" William Gibson.
    • Also, Drucker is German for printer. Considering how Drucker's technology allows him to reproduce (print) human templates indefinitely, this is fitting.
    • The first human we see who is killed and brought back to life is Johnny Phoenix.
  • Memory Gambit: An interesting variation. Adam fakes his own memories, knowing that the bad guys will read them to find out where he stashed the evidence.
  • Mistaken Identity: Played for drama. Hank pretends to be Adam for Drucker's charter contract (which specifically requested Adam), in order to free Adam up to run some errands. Tripp murders the entire group, Hank and Drucker included. Drucker's men, to cover up his death, clone everyone there, but they also clone Adam because it was his name on the contract, missing the fact that they now have more clones than corpses. The superfluous Adam clone having a still-living counterpart kicks off the plot of the movie.

  • No OSHA Compliance: Dr. Weir's cloning lab sure likes catwalks across pools of water with no guard railings. Of course, the secret illegal lab would never face government inspection without being shut down entirely.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Drucker's mooks kick down several of the doors when breaking into the Gibson family home. Without any reason to think they're locked. (Element of surprise?)
  • Our Clones Are Different: "Blank" clones are grown which have all identifying characteristics stripped from their genome. When a specific person needs to be cloned, their DNA is overlayed on the Blank.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Doesn't appear in person, but clearly a President Minority when Drucker's representatives refer to the U.S. President with female pronouns.
  • Papa Wolf: When his family is held to ensure compliance, Adam comes to the rescue, hard.
  • Pet the Dog: Drucker is polite and courteous to his pilot, and even gets him some complimentary tickets to a sports game after learning Hank (pretending to be Adam) is a fan. Unfortunately things go downhill from there.
  • Police Are Useless: The police are pretty useless when the real Adam tries to get help from them after his family are taken. 911 operators have apparently been replaced with an annoying and very slow automated menu.
  • Precision F-Strike: Used to set up the following line (which later doubles as a Brick Joke, or would if the PG-13 rating didn't mean they couldn't say "fuck" twice):
    Adam: You should try cloning yourself while you're still alive.
    Drucker: Why? So I can experience your unique perspective?
    Adam: No. So you can go fuck yourself!
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Drucker is mentioned to take backups of his mind "religiously". Given the number of people trying to kill him (two of which succeeded), he's pretty justified in doing so.
    • When Adam negotiates a deal with Drucker, trading Drucker's memory disc for Adam's family, Adam knows they won't honor it and prepares accordingly.
  • Ray Gun: The "foosh gun" is a chemical laser handgun used by the villains (and later by the protagonist). While it has a visible beam, there's a realistic effect of flames that vent from the sides of the handgun on firing, as waste gas from the chemical reaction is expelled.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: After discovering what Drucker has been doing and causing his wife to die a second time, Dr. Weir tries to quit, which would also doom Drucker's cloning program. Since Drucker can't afford to lose him, he decides to kill the original Weir and then clone him and his wife from their latest syncordings so he won't remember turning against him.
  • Respawn Point: A rare non-video game example, used by the repeatedly-cloned henchmen whenever they die.
  • Resurrection Sickness: Wiley's phantom pains from his previous deaths.
  • Rewind Gag: At the end of the film, there is a rewind of events back to the point where Adam Gibson had his "eye test" just before the credits roll.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: In its near-future setting, Adam Gibson's clone pays $447.16 for a cab ride which shouldn't have been a long trip for him. You can see the base cab fare is set at $200.
  • Robosexuals Are Creeps: Adam's best friend Hank has a holographic "companion" at home which he claims to be better than a real wife. Adam, a devoted family man, just finds it creepy and pathetic. Indeed, outside of his friendship with Adam, Hank is shown to have no social life to speak of.
  • Scary Black Man: Vincent
  • Science Is Bad: Subverted, although the tone of the movie can come across as this at points.
  • Screw Yourself: Given that this is an Arnie film about clones, you shouldn't be too surprised that this is suggested.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Drucker's entire plot is unraveled because Hank talked Adam into trading places during the ski trip, resulting in there being two living Adam Gibsons active at once.
    • Doctor Weir's discovery of his wife's cystic fibrosis reveals that Drucker has been engineering the clones to have terminal diseases to keep their 'clients' loyal.
  • Storming the Castle: What the two Adams do in the end.
  • Super Window Jump: Adam does it to escape from Drucker and his mooks. It's played slightly more realistically in that Adam is clearly hurt a lot by the process.
  • Survivor Guilt: Adam, after finding out that Hank ended up being murdered due to the two switching places for Drucker's charter flight.
    Adam: It should have been me...
  • Tap on the Head: When the bad guys want to scan Adam's mind with the syncorder but he proves uncooperative, one of Drucker's mooks resorts to punching Adam in the head to knock him out. You'd think they could have just used some sort of sedative considering they're in a private, high-tech medical facility. Adam wakes up within minutes and is able to escape because they forget to restrain him in any way.
  • Television Geography: A lot of locations around Metro Vancouver stand in for locations in the film; the Vancouver Public Library is the Replacement Technologies headquarters and the helicopter lands near Pacific Centre (with Science World clearly visible in the background).
  • Time Title: The title comes from:
    "God created man in His own image. And behold it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Adam suffers from this when he finds out he's actually the clone.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Everyone thinks Wiley is literally too dumb to live. It's why Drucker tells Marshall not to bring him back after the man shot him by accident.
  • Uncertain Doom: It's unclear exactly what head Mook Marshall's final fate is. He can be seen to still be breathing when Adam retrieves his gun, but whether he survived the explosion is uncertain. He's also the only villain not seen to be killed on-screen, though he does have his leg blown off. And the fact that his leg later appears to be perfectly fine raises some interesting implications.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Wiley twices shoots a member of his side while trying to hit Adam. Once during a car chase, he shoots Talia in the neck. Later, he shoots Drucker himself in the gut. The latter screw-up proves to be his undoing, since Drucker personally executes Wiley and orders his other minions not to clone him again.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Hank essentially sets off the subsequent chain of events just because he volunteers to take Drucker flying while posing as Adam so the real Adam can check out RePet, leading to the exposure of Drucker’s cloning program. If Hank hadn't switched places, there would never have been a mix-up that led to the creation of the second Adam while his original was still alive and well.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: How Drucker tries to justify his cloning, saying with his technology, the world won't have to lose its "Martin Luther Kings" and "Mozarts".
  • Video Phone: Interestingly showcased a video phone call with an automated machine... for 911 emergencies.
  • Villain Has a Point: Drucker points out that human cloning could save many lives, and ensure that humanity doesn't have to lose its Martin Luther Kings and Mozarts. The laws on cloning in-story are also heavily implied to be out-of-date, and influenced by religion. Moreover, non-human cloning already has saved many lives; in one of his speeches, he points out that his company restored several species of fish that were close to extinction due to overfishing and thereby prevented world hunger.
  • Villains Never Lie: Double subverted: When Drucker tells Adam Gibson that he's really the clone, Adam just laughs him off, saying he's lying. Then Drucker provides proof.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: Whenever a clone is being brought back from a violent death the memories of said death come rushing in when they wake up that they shout their last words upon waking.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Drucker thinks himself this way. He even made a speech about how if cloning was possible and legal in the past that many of history's greatest influences could be brought back. What really cements it is that he was willing to kill Dr. Wier, the real well-intentioned extremist, so he could bring him and his wife back, because he thought it would make them happy.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Adam asks this upon running into the re-cloned Talia and Wiley.
    Adam: Doesn't anyone stay dead anymore?
  • You Are Already Checked In: Talia tries to check in, only to discover that Adam has already used her stolen thumb to do so.
  • You Have Failed Me: It's bad enough that Wiley keeps screwing up and getting himself killed, but the last straw comes when he accidentally shoots his boss. Drucker returns the favor and decides not to bring him back again.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Some clones are built with congenital defects designed to kill them in a few years as an insurance policy against clients that get the urge to blab to the press, or where the leverage is useful to Drucker's goals. However, some clones that are meant to be seamless replacements and where the leverage isn't useful appear to have no defects built in, such as clone Adam, presumably in part because this increases the risk of exposure.
  • Zeerust:
    • The film opens on an XFL game. The XFL was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it American Football league, backed by Vince McMahon, which was meant to compete with the NFL. It ended so quickly that most people don't even remember it existed, yet it's featured in this movie's futuristic setting (even an attempt at reviving it in 2020 didn't last long).
    • While cloning is nowhere near as advanced as in the film, nor did Ray Guns become a reality, the writers did make some accurate predictions on the smaller-scale tech, like Adam putting in an order for milk on his smart fridge, video phones (which sci-fi writers have hypothesized since at least the 1950s), driverless cars, and Adam's friend Hank has an A.I. girlfriend. This is not so surprising, since most of these are reasonable extrapolations from technology in the early 2000s.

"I know who I am."

Alternative Title(s): The Sixth Day