The Stupidest Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Has A Weird Connection To Dwayne Johnson
The Sixth Day starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a family man and his clone as well as Dwayne Johnson's football league, The XFL.
If Arnold Schwarzenegger was the definitive action hero of the 1980s and 1990s, it is hard to argue that Dwayne Johnson did not take over in the 2000s. There are few entertainers/moguls/featured performers on a Tech N9ne single that have the kind of brand awareness as Dwayne Johnson, so it makes sense that he was very aware of his role succeeding the Austrian Oak as the premiere ridiculously large action movie stars. This is perhaps most obviously seen in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s quick, meta-aware cameo in Dwayne Johnson’s 2003 film The Rundown, in which Conan the Barbarian wishes a quick “good luck” to the Scorpion King. However, the 2000 science fiction action movie The 6th Day has another odd, retroactive connection between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dwayne Johnson: a little sports minor league you might have heard of, the XFL.
The 6th Day opens with footage of an XFL game in play, which is oddly both anachronistic and futuristic. You see, the Arnold Schwarzenegger film is set in 2015, which is both long after the XFL originally folded with massive financial losses for founders Vince McMahon (formerly Dwayne Johnson’s employer in the WWE) and Dick Ebersol. The XFL was intended to compete with the long-dominant National Football League with faster gameplay, cooler graphics, and more scantily clad cheerleaders, but ended up crashing and burning fast. It was “re-founded” by McMahon in 2018, then found itself faltering once more and was bought by an unexpected bidder: Dwayne Johnson. Essentially, the XFL appeared in The Sixth Day as a form of product placement, but did not exist in 2015 when the movie was set; it was then revived after the fictional events of the movie, with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cultural successor Dwayne Johnson now in charge (after his old boss kept messing it up). Pretty weird, overall.
The actual movie The Sixth Day stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Adam Gibson, a charter pilot in a near future in which the connection between the mega-popular XFL (which does not actually stand for anything, to be clear) and Dwayne Johnson is unclear. In this version of 2015, genetic cloning has been perfected (by nefarious mega-corporations, naturally) and normalized to such a degree that a beloved pet dying simply means you pop by the male and get a new, identical copy. However, human cloning is still illegal, banned under “6th Day” laws, which sounds cool but is kind of weird when you consider it is an overtly Judeo-Christian reference for a Federal law. After all, it’s not like laws against murder are called “Fifth Commandment” laws or interesting-capping bank regulations are “Ezekiel Usury” acts.
The real hook of The Sixth Day is the discovery that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been cloned without his knowledge, and replaced with a duplicate with all his memories. From there, the movie gets increasingly complicated, with multiple clones of multiple new characters seemingly appearing every ten minutes. It turns out that human cloning has actually been in effect for quite some time, and an evil billionaire is using it for illegal purposes, except that is actually his chief scientist (Robert Duvall, there to add a little gravitas) in control of everything, except that no, it turns out the billionaire actually is pulling the genetic strings. In many ways, The Sixth Day is far more plot-heavy and complicated than it needs to be, but it did give us the film debut of Terry Crews, so it has that going for it.
The Sixth Day was released at the apex of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ability to pull a $25 million paycheck and the very start of Dwayne Johnson as a film star (he still needed to remind people about “The Rock” thing at the time). The Sixth Day underperformed at the box office, bringing in less than $100 million, which really makes that Schwarzenegger payday seem that much more gargantuan. It clearly is trying to follow in the footsteps of high-concept science fiction hits of his past like Total Recall and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but does not have either the internal logic or the directorial panache. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dwayne Johnson have both made some undeniably stupid movies in their careers (and some terrific ones), but The Sixth Day has them all beat.