END OF DAYS (1999)

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End of Days

END OF DAYS (1999)
Directed by Peter Hyams

After their Wall Street client is shot at, private security officers Jericho and Chicago hunt down the man responsible. Discovering the culprit has ties to the church, they uncover a theory that the Devil himself has arrived in New York City and is destined to consummate with Christine, a woman chosen from birth to deliver the anti-Christ. With the intimate act to be performed in the final hour of 1999, Jericho has just days to track down Satan’s conquest and prevent them from ending the world as we know it.

Horror thriller END OF DAYS sees Arnold Schwarzenegger kick ass whilst trying to outrun the devil and prevent him from having his wicked way with an innocent young woman whilst the entire city counts down to their Millennium celebrations. It’s not exactly how anyone plans to see in the new year but it sure makes for an interesting premise, or at least I initially thought so…

Boasting an estimated $100 million budget, END OF DAYS  was certainly no minor movie to hit the screen in 1999 but you could be mistaken with the resulting effort. It’s likely that a large chunk of the money was spent on the numerous action scenes in the movie which add thrill and spectacle but don’t always sit right, especially watching the movie twenty years on. The action sequence at the beginning of the film, where a helicopter flies low across New York whilst hero Jericho (Arnie) hangs off a cable from it, attempting to catch the gun-toting priest, must have cost a pretty penny to execute. Despite this, the entire sequence has a B-movie style to it and feels way over the top given the built-up location and threat concerned. It’s not like the president has had an attempt on his life. The client is just some rich Wall Street banker but we’re meant to believe an ex-cop, private security officer is able to pull dangerous manoeuvres involving guns and helicopters without any repercussions? Well, in this version of 1999 it seems you can get away with allsorts.

I’d like to say it gets better but unfortunately exaggeration is what the film does best. In one of the more entertaining but equally daft action sequences is a fight scene between actress Miriam Margolyes and our hero Arnie. Never in my life would I have predicted I’d ever witness these two at war but here we have Margolyes, as Christine’s step-mother Mabel, furious with Jericho for keep interfering in their family’s business. It might not be as thrilling as the fight scene in They Live but Margolyes and Arnie definitely have an intense scrap that makes the furniture fly.

After the OTT opening action scenes, the film takes on a sinister vibe that teases a more thoughtful approach to what is a dark, sexual concept. We watch as Jericho and Chicago (Kevin Pollak) drive forwards with their investigation, the police department one step behind, as they unearth some disturbing truths. However, it’s at the hospital where things really get freaky in what is the most brutal part of the film as renegade priest Thomas Aquinas comes face-to-face with his nemesis.

For a film about the devil and the end of days, there’s quite a bit of humour involved whether intentional or not. Gabriel Byrne stars as the devil, managing to switch from portraying an everyday businessman to the epitome of dark sleaze as he’s taken over by the spirit of Lucifer that has singled him out as his vessel on Earth. Walking through NYC, causing death and destruction wherever he goes, Lucifer is a determined character who’ll stop at nothing until he gets his hands on Christine. He also has a neat party trick of urinating flammable liquid which comes in handy in one particular scene, even though we know he’s more than capable of just exploding whatever building he sees fit without whipping ‘it’ out.

Watching the film over two decades later reminded me of the hysteria we experienced in 1999 leading up to the year 2000. The news constantly spread fear about the Millennium bug dooming computers to crash throughout the world as soon as we hit ’00 (they reckoned that computers wouldn’t be able to handle the last two digits and would mistaken the year for 1900). The time in which this film was set was ‘end of days’ material in more ways than one. Then the clock struck midnight and the whole anxiety about the Y2K bug dissipated.

There’s lots of religious nods throughout the film as you’d expect in a movie dealing with good versus evil. Our lead character Jericho seems destined to be the saviour of the story. His initials J.C. (Jericho Cane), identical to that of Jesus Christ, are perhaps an in-joke or nod to that. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but he’s also nailed to a cross during the film which further reinforces the idea of the role he’s found himself in. Not that I’m saying he’s the embodiment of Christ but rather a protector or one of the ‘good guys’ to prevent the devil from making his goals a reality.

Whilst there’s aspects of END OF DAYS that are enjoyable, namely the bits in which Jericho investigates the shooter, overall the film feels too cringeworthy and daft to live up to its dark storyline. Even Arnie, who I usually love watching, isn’t enough to save this film from the depths with both script and on-screen action leaving much to be desired.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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About Bat 4442 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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