End of Days, 1999.
Directed by Peter Hyams.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunny, Kevin Pollak, and Rod Steiger.
On the eve of the new Millennium, alcoholic former New York cop Jericho Cane finds himself at the centre of an ancient conflict between good and evil involving a young woman whom he must protect from The Devil himself, who has come to Earth to use the woman to birth the Antichrist and bring about the apocalypse.
I think it’s safe to say dear readers that 2016 will be a year that many of us will not look back on fondly.
What with all manner of depressing events ranging from the ongoing tragedy of civil wars and unrest around the world, political upheaval, Harambe, the deaths of many beloved icons and President Trump, the year has felt like an unending kick in the bollocks with a nipple cripple flung in for good measure.
With this year being as horrible as it was you might even think that this is all a sign that the world is headed for the end – hell after the year we’ve all had I wouldn’t blame people for just wanting it to end.
This overly sombre intro brings me helpfully to my final review of the year, the supremely daft action horror End of Days in which Arnold Schwarzenegger quite literally locks horns with The Devil himself in a wonderfully silly slice of apocalyptic cheese.
As the preposterously named Jericho Cane, Arnold attempts to deliver a somewhat more nuanced performance than he usually does, with Schwarzenegger really trying to “act” as a depressed former cop who drinks the world’s most disgusting hangover cures when he isn’t thinking about redecorating his house with his brains. However, as we all know, dramatic acting has never been the Austrian Oak’s strongest quality and he’s at his best here when he’s gunning down satanic goons or blowing Beelzebub into crispy chunks with a machine gun.
The incredibly underrated Gabriel Byrne is the real star of the show though as one of my favourite screen depictions of The Devil. Byrne portrays the horned one with a mysterious kind of charm that you can’t help but be drawn to when he’s on screen, and when he isn’t you just can’t wait for him to come back, even if he does ham it up a bit.
Byrne is clearly having a ball with the role which only serves to make his performance all the more brilliant. His best moment comes when he is trying to tempt Schwarzenegger to join him in his dark mission, loudly denouncing God as “The Biggest Underachiever of All Time, he just has a good publicist that’s all”, in a clichéd but still incredibly funny tirade that Byrne absolutely nails.
This film is kind of a genre hybrid beginning as something of a dark supernatural horror with elements of mystery; heck there are some moments that would look more at home in a film like Se7en, if that film had more explosions, with dingy basements full of creepy mementos and a scene in which a priest is murdered in a horrific ritualistic fashion.
The final act though is when it goes fully off the rails and becomes awesome with Schwarzenegger going into full Commando mode, complete with a scene in which gets tooled up with assorted kinds of heavy weaponry before proceeding to shoot and blow up everything in his path. It’s a glorious stupid finale to a gloriously stupid film with it essentially devolving into a big budget redo of The Black Knight from Monty Python, with Byrne being left as a bullet-ridden, blown up chunk of Irish meat by the end.
I might be in the minority when I say that I absolutely love End of Days.
Whether it’s the ludicrous plot; the explosive action sequences, or its wealth of great sometimes daft moments such as a little old lady laying the smack down on Big Arnie, Byrne lighting his own piss on fire to cause a van to explode, or the truly explosive reveal of the Devil’s true demonic form, the film is simply glorious and I love every minute of it.
If you want a stupid film to watch while you put a bullet into this absolute turd of a year stick on End of Days and have yourself an apocalyptically good time.
Check it out and I wish you all a happy New Year.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★