Peter Hyams directs Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne and Robin Tunney in this demonic action thriller where a security specialist finds he is the only thing that stands between an innocent girl and a horny Satan.
An unsuspected issue of the 1990s was Arnie, the popular and behemoth superstar, struggled to find antagonists worthy of his stature. He’d taken on and killed intergalactic warriors, super upgraded terminators and the planet Mars at the height of his powers… the litany of British character actors playing drug lords and terrorists who followed didn’t really cut the mustard. So when Arnie Vs. The Devil Himself was mooted you can see why appetites on all sides of the projection booth might be whetted. Borrowing its aesthetic from Fincher’s Se7en and its mythology from the Bible (not really… Richard Donner’s The Omen is the true gospel here) End of Days is a fascinating lurch into horror for Arnie. The plot itself follows the pattern of Arnie’s biggest hit, T2, almost fanatically. Morally dubious killing machine finds his humanity so he can protect an innocent who is prophesied to be a key player in an impending apocalypse. The one overlooked element from the superior chase film is the near relentless action. Hyams (who joined the project just at it started shooting) loses sight of why we buy a ticket for one of these mega budgeted rollercoasters. The first seventy minutes only has one action sequence of note – Schwarzenegger dangling from a helicopter over Wall Street, fishing for a fleeing sniper like a mechanical claw hunting a cuddly prize. After that, the film gets lost in papal conspiracy, kinky bad behaviour from Gab Byrne’s sleazy Lucifer and the occasional jolt of body horror. The slambang eve of the millennium finale does eventually deliver the promised gunfire and pyrotechnics, some of the CGI holds up better than I remembered. Not anybody involved’s finest hour but it fills a Saturday night loudly and gives its beloved star a slightly meatier, more serious character to humanise his ass kicking with. Fine.
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