Priests with Guns
End of Days
Review by Ross Anthony

Are you charmed by Arnold? (I am) Does a big Hollywood movie with Arnold sound attractive to you? If so, then "End of Days" fits that bill. Arnold straps lots of cool weapons to his prize-winning body. Arnold takes bullets to the chest, baseball bats to the skull and an assortment of other would-be fatal blows. But Arnold seemingly retains his interminatability (as if it rubbed off from previous roles under different direction). If that's what you like -- you'll be happy.

If however, you associate Arnold with smart action a la "Terminator," "True Lies" etc. you may react as did a fellow in the men's room after the show, "Disappointed!" he frowned shaking his head as he zipped up. Or the snoozing gentleman in the row behind me ... after the crashing crescendo of the climax faded, his steadfast snoring could be heard. Even though I was not as dismayed as these two, it was obvious that "End of Days" didn't deliver the powerful immensity we've come to expect from Mr. Schwarzenegger.

Here's the plot ... The millennium on the verge, Satan comes back to Earth in the form of a man, seeking the woman that's been branded to be the mother of his son (the antichrist we can assume). The Vatican is well aware of this prophecy and sends an ugly mob of weapon wielding priests to carve her up. However, there's a group of "good guy" priests dabbling in stigmata research and therapy that try to protect the innocent would-be anti-Madonna from (ahem) Satan's little sword. Arnold, a down and out body guard, stumbles into this mess and ultimately finds himself defending this freaked out girl from Lucifer himself.

It's a challenge to pretend that it makes sense to fight the prince of darkness with traditional Hollywood blow up weaponry. As an arch enemy/villian/bad guy, this Satan is formidable, but as the devil? He's rather impotent. Though touched on (especially in a good scene in Arnold's home), Satan's powers of manipulation were sorely underdeveloped. Also lacking consistancy, Satan shows off the ability to read Arnold's inner most thoughts, yet he still needs Arnold to voluntarily verbalize where the girl is hidden. Lastly, the religious dilemma concerning the murder of an innocent to save the world could have been realized on the screen with greater sympathy. Instead, the priests with guns seem to take to thuggery as if it were second nature.

It's one of those action films where things happen so that the next visual thing can happen -- not necessarily because the transgression is logical or developmental. "End of Days" sports some powerfully visual special effects, but fails to lure you in emotionally or even sympathetically. You're just a watcher. Another viewer quipped, "The film pulls you through it like a dog on a leash."

But "End of Days" still displays some shining moments: 1) A scene in which Satan relieves himself on the sidewalk, then sets his own puddle of urine on fire. 2) Arnold suspecting his best bud to be the devil, lets a bullet make the decision. 3) Satan's first shocking deed as a man. 4) The final appearance of Satan in his "real" bat-winged form.

It's not strong on substance (though it could have been), still, I don't think you'll have a bad time.

  • End of Days. Copyright © 1999. Rated R.
  • Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollack, Robin Tunney, Cch Pounder, Rod Steiger.
  • Directed by Peter Hyams.
  • Written by Andrew W. Marlowe.
  • Produced by Armyan Bernstein and Bill Borden at Beacon/Univeral.


Copyright © 1999. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:11:55 PDT