END OF DAYS(director/cinematographer: Peter Hyams; screenwriter: Andrew W. Marlowe; editor: Steven Kemper; cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger (Jericho Cane), Gabriel Byrne (the Man), Robin Tunney (Christine York), Kevin Pollak (Chicago), Rod Steiger (Father Kovak), C.C.H. Pounder (Det. Margie Francis), Derrick O’Connor (Thomas Aquinas), Rainer Judd (Christine’s Step-Mother), Mark Margolis (Pope); Runtime: 120; Beacon Pictures/Universal; 1999)
“It’s just dreck…”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Gun-wielding Arnold Schwarzenegger has a change of heart by the film’s end and becomes a believer in God instead of a skeptic, going through an amazing transformation by having a Christian epiphany in the final scene as he becomes someone who can now beat the Devil by his faith alone…this is after two hours of throwing people out windows and shooting more people than in your average war. Nobody can save Arnold from his own stupidity and arrogance. It is absurd to think that this is a positive religious-type of film. It’s just dreck…an ill-conceived, exploitative project, built around a pyrotechnical solution as its selling point.
“End of Days” aims to be an apocalyptic thriller. It features an idiotic script, a hack director, and a one-dimensional star who is past his prime…which makes this film dumber than dumb; plus it’s not funny, not campy, nor is it in the least bit entertaining. It’s just a dreary big-budget slasher film.
Arnold plays an alcoholic security guard who finds his new mission in life is to stop Satan (occupying Gabriel Byrne’s body and possessing a Wall St. bank account) from destroying the world. The film opens in Vatican City, Roma 1979 — where the Pope is alerted by a young visionary priest Tomaso, looking out at the night sky and seeing a comet whiz by, that he just saw the sign for the ‘Eye of God.’ This reveals that a child has been born who is being prepared to give birth to Satan’s baby (the anti-Christ) in the hour before the new century begins. That’s when Satan will f*ck her and open up the gates to hell on earth. Tomaso has some twenty years to find this mysterious woman and save her and the world from doom. But some in the Pope’s circle want to kill her if found even though the Pope insists on having faith and letting her live, as he lectures them: “Even in the world’s darkest days — doing evil doesn’t stop evil, but brings on more evil.”
We saw the girl being born in NYC in 1979, which seems to be the ‘logical’ place to look for Satan according to the astrology charts of the visionaries. The chosen woman is Christine York (Robin). It is now a few days before the New Year celebration for 2000 and Arnold and his wise-cracking security guard partner Kevin Pollack are hired to guard a Wall Street turd and when he is fired upon by a renegade priest, Thomas Aquinas, Arnold saves him and through a ridiculous chase captures the priest. The priest who fired the shot has no tongue. He nevertheless can speak and tells Arnold an ‘end of days’ is coming as prophesized in Revelations. But Satan gets to him in his hospital room and nails him to the ceiling while scribbling Latin warnings of ‘the end of the world’ on his body.
It is now up to Arnold to save the world and find the chosen woman. He quickly finds out that the mystery woman is Christine and he does everything to protect her from all the evil forces around her, as the film includes ludicrous helicopter rescues, people jumping out of windows, Satan taking a piss and dropping a match to kill Arnold’s partner as the piss explodes like gasoline, Satan being fired at…resulting in his sometimes experiencing pain and sometimes nothing, as if the director forgot which way he wants to have it. There is nothing spared in NYC from fire bombs — including the subway, churches, and luxury buildings. The only trouble with all these high-budget action sequences, was that it lacked purpose and even entertainment value.
The story did not have an iota of credibility. Mercifully the movie drags to a final confrontation in Times Square, trying unsuccessfully to build tension to the countdown toward the year 2000. Why is the end of 1999 considered to be the Devil’s number “666,” well! … Satan’s numeral is actually “999,” which is upside down of “666.” Accordingly, you just put a “1” in front of it– and bingo — you get “1999.” With logic like that, this film might even think it pulled the wool over the viewer’s eyes and got away with such a febrile explanation of that occult number. This film should become a classic used by film schools in how not to make a horror film. I highly recommend seeing it for that purpose.
REVIEWED ON 12/16/2000 GRADE: D
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ