Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in his element in the action film “End of Days.” This time around he fights the devil. We all know that he wins in the end but the question I want answered is simple: Arnold has starred in over 25 films and not one of them explains why he has that damn accent! In Terminator, someone please tell me why a robot from the future would have an Austrian accent?
“End of Days” begins with just a few days until the end of the millennium and the whole world has gone wacko. Arnold plays Jericho, an ex-cop turned bodyguard who is drawn into protecting a girl sought after by assasins. He soon learns that the girl is the chosen one by Satan himself. If the devil mates with her in the last hour of 1999, the joining will open the gates of hell and man’s existence will cease. Hack director Peter Hyams delivers action that is the standard issue types of guns and explosions we’ve all seen before. It’s not particularly innovative. Arnold is fun to watch in action again but when he attempts a moving performance it produces giggles from the audience. It’s very clear that Arnold’s acting is lacking when a subplot about his murdered family emerges and actually becomes laughable.
The best thing about “End of Days” is Gabriel Byrne’s performance as an investment banker used as the body of the devil. Byrne bristles with evil. He kills without thinking and enjoys it. He compliments a teenager on his “Satan” t-shirt, then distracts the annoying kid so he is splattered by a bus. Unfortunately, Byrne’s Satan character ends up devolving into a redo of Robert Patrick’s performance in T2 as he relentlessly pursues the girl. His bullet wounds even heal much like the liquid metal of the T-1000.
The best scene in the movie involves no guns or action at all. Byrne as Satan tempts Arnold to reveal the location of the girl and in exchange he will restore Arnold’s murdered wife and daughter. Byrne’s performance is incredible as he reasons with Arnold explaining that he is really the good guy and that God is the real evil in the world. “Guilt is not my thing,” Satan says. It’s damn funny and one of the best scenes in a movie this year.
The climactic ending includes plenty of digital effects and enough explosions for five Arnold movies. Overall, “End of Days” is a lot of fun, but not a great movie.