ONE STAR - Demeaning

The importance of the issue presented in the opening scenes of Roger Spottiswoode’s film “The Sixth Day” creates a far greater expectation than the film delivers.  Beginning with the Biblical truth that God created humans in His own image on the sixth day, the film then purposes a future in which the cloning of human beings has been outlawed by “Sixth Day” laws.  This premise, that we are not to create clones in our images but leave such creation to God, is so clearly presented and the spiritual implications are so obvious that this exploration held great promise.

However, the film not only shies away from a serious exploration of these issues, it falls instead into a raucous and offensive action film so full of violence and sexual innuendo that its PG13 rating is questionable.

As the opening scenes show pictures of magazine articles depicting recent advances in cloning sheep and moral opposition to cloning humans, the film presents a world in which a wealthy businessman and a brilliant researcher secretly create a facility that can not only clone humans, but also develop a technique so that “blank” bodies are prepared and held in stasis for almost immediate replacement after a person’s death.

Though the science fiction of this process leaves much to be desired, for example, claiming that a DVD-like record can be made of our brains and inserted into a newly cloned replacement, the spiritual questions are real that are raised by the hero, Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  The problem is that Gibson has no help in even discussing let alone answering such questions.

The businessman is named Drucker (Tony Goldwyn) and is himself a clone of his original body that died several years earlier.  Though it is not clear if the original Drucker was a soul-less being who cared nothing about others, it is clear that his clone is evil.

When Gibson is caught up in a killing by an “anti-cloning fundamentalist” who is fighting the evil clone, he is himself cloned and his clone must face the question of whether he is truly human.

Though the film alludes to an interesting answer that reflects the sacrifice of Christ, Gibson tells his clone that he must be human because he is willing to die to save “their” family.  This ability to “lay down one’s life for another” is a basis of morality, but falls short of defining humanity, since even a dog could be trained to sacrifice its own life for its master.

One of the few beneficial aspects of the film is a discussion the researcher, Dr. Graham Weir (Robert Duvall), has with his wife.  Having contracted cancer five years earlier, she has been cloned by Dr. Weir.  But the cloned “replacement” realizes that her “real self” had actually died already, and as the new cloned body faces death, her on-going consciousness within a cloned shell wants to die.  Dr. Weir decides to let her die and not clone her again against her wishes.

This realization that continuing consciousness in repeatedly cloned “blanks” could be experienced as inhuman exposes one of the greatest spiritual struggles of our existence:  Can we transcend death in any way other than that presented by God in Jesus Christ?  And if we try, will even our limited successes be experienced spiritually not as a victory, but as an emptiness not worthy of who we really are as beings “created in the image of God?”

Posted on June 1, 2011 and filed under 1 STAR, DEMEANING.