This has to be just about Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s worst move. Then, I never saw any of the Conan films. This is End of Days, and it came out in 1999, at the appropriate time for such a movie. Recall that as the 20th century closed down all kinds of doom was projected, not counting four-digit date software issues. The deal was 2000 was supposed to be the 2000th anniversary of Jesus of Nazareth (born in the year -4). 2000 was supposed to be the beginning of the new millennium, and it was, except the new millennium started at the end of 2000, not the first of January 2000. Anyhow, this is about the religious notion of end of days, and there is more on this topic than you care to hear. The movie is currently streaming on Hulu, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.
When the movie opens we see a priest (or a monk) at the Vatican pulling out cannisters of ancient scrolls. He finds the one he is looking for.
He takes the document to the Holy Father with startling news. The girl that was prophesied is about to be born. It’s 1979, twenty years prior to 1999, and the girl is going to grow up to bear the child of the Prince of Darkness. Many churchmen declare the girl must be killed to forestall this prophecy. The Pope decides (since when?) it would be immoral to sacrifice an innocent. The girl must be protected.
It’s a few days before New Year’s Eve in 1999, and a Nameless Banker (Gabriel Byrne) is having dinner at a swanky Manhattan eatery, along with a business acquaintance and a most charming woman. He gets up and goes to the men’s room. While he is inside relieving himself, a disturbance in the fabric of time and space comes down the street and enters the restaurant. It follows the banker into the men’s room and engulfs him. The banker becomes the host of the Prince of Darkness.
The man exits the restroom, strides to his table, kisses the woman passionately, and goes outside. As he strolls away the restaurant is demolished in a fiery explosion.
Meanwhile, super cop Jericho Cane (Arnold) and his partner capture a crook. Here is Arnold doing his True Lies stuff, snagging the bad dude in mid-air while dangling from a cable attached to a helicopter overhead.
The girl is born, and now she is 20 and most likely still a virgin. Her parents are dead, and she is being raised by a mysterious woman, soon to be revealed as working for the Holy See. The church is dedicated to protecting the girl, but at the same time to prevent her being impregnated by the Dark Prince. The impregnation must occur between 13:00 p.m. and midnight on 31 December 1999. The reason for this is never adequately explained.
Here young and virginal Christine York (Robin Tunney) rides a subway train, confronted by an apparition. It’s a manifestation of the dark side, and Christine has been plagued with this kind of thing for years. From outward appearances she is schizophrenic.
Back at her apartment some men break in with the intent to kill Christine. But first they must administrate the last rites. These are people from the church, and their intent is to keep Satan from humping her and getting her pregnant.
But Cane and his partner, following up on a related case, happen by, and Christine is saved. Cane becomes interested in Christine.
And the movie plot is off and running as Cane must prevent the girl from getting knocked up during the critical hour, and the rest is cinema FX, packed with scenes such as this one of a subway car crashing in a tunnel.
Come the critical hour, and Cane destroys the banker, but the manifestation invades his body, and he prepares to impregnate Christine, by force, on a church altar.
By sure will power Cane overcomes the dark force and tells Christine to run. It is seconds before the ball drops in Times Square. The church is half wrecked, and Cane impales himself upon the sword of a fallen statue. This is most gruesome.
The ball drops, and the magic hour expires for another 1000 years.
Cane has given all and has atoned for his years of denial of the power of faith. It’s a tale for the ages.
Yes, and that is all the movie has going for it. Based on a legend concocted by people unknown at a time unknown and having no basis in fact or scripture. It is a bad movie.
As I watch through this I was struck by the many ways the prophecy could have been forestalled. Cane could have screwed the girl and gotten her pregnant. She could have gone on the pill (except the church would object).
Also, this Prince of Darkness is such an omnipotent being, how come he has to go through all theis rigmarole to impregnate the girl, and how come he is unable to use his vast powers to defeat some bumbling cops? If this shows the limitations of the Prince of Darkness, why are we so concerned that he could possibly dominate the world.
And finally, this planet is one of possibly billions of habitable worlds in the universe, and it just happens to be the center of all this attention? Tell me more.
My favorite Arnold film tends to be Kindergarten Cop, where Arnold does comedy well. The Terminator is good, also, but there he’s a stand-in for machine and not a real person. True Lies was another comedic tough guy role for Arnold. I need to review Total Recall.