After the deadly sleeping pill of Pulgasari I was pleasantly surprised at this silly movie's ability to keep me awake, and so it's just squeaking by with a three star rating. It's like a three star minus.
Arnold Schwarzerneggar plays a sad cop who winds up tasked with saving the world from the conception of the Anti-Christ, which must take place between the hour of 11 pm and midnight on December 31st, 1999. Hey, remember the Y2K panic? Let's all have a chuckle at Y2K's expense.
Satan possesses Gabriel Byrne and he must bone Robin Tunney in that specific hour, otherwise he must wait a thousand years for another go. So no, he's not a very impressive Satan, to be beholden to such restrictive rules. (Full disclosure: I used to have a bit of a thing for Robin Tunney. A group of her friends and a group of mine occupied opposite sides of a big round bar table once in NYC. Our groups didn't interact, but she looked great.)
This is your basic passable B-grade Schwarzerneggar fare, it's got some gunfights and explosions and a subway chase. If it weren't about Satan, it wouldn't be a horror movie, and as such the movie doesn't really "get" the Cult of Satan thing. A number of times we're confronted with the posse of mortals in the Devil's service, and it's usually sort of dull. "Oh no! Silhouettes of some people, and they have flashlights!"
And I'm not even getting into the awful musical number
There is one piece of this I love, and it's the way they made Satan all about sex. When we briefly see un-possessed Gabriel Byrne he's at a restaurant greeting two friends who look like a married couple. He excuses himself to go to the men's room, in which he's possessed by Satan (because Satan is very polite and doesn't want to disrupt dinner). When he returns to his friends he immediately and without a word grabs the woman's breast and kisses her fiercely, with a passion she returns as if in a trance. Later Byrne arrives at the home of Udo Kier, one of his human disciples, and right away is having a threesome with Kier's wife and daughter. Hot, sick stuff.
I'd call this an acceptable choice if you happen to come across it on cable and aren't feeling too picky. You might be annoyed by Byrne's sloppy New York accent, or the pointless thematic question about whether Arnold will believe in God or not. I say pointless because his disbelief never gets in the way of him accepting information or doing the right thing, so why pester the guy? It would have made a nice noir-ish touch if he just kept plodding on for no definite reason, but I think such ambiguity is beyond Arnold and director Peter Hyams' abilities. (Peter Hyams directed Outland, 2010, Running Scared, The Relic, and Timecop. You know, movies you might call "good" but not put at the end of the sentence "Oh I just loved ________!"
When we finally get around to sorting our reviews, I'm really looking forward to movies like End of Days, in which a big movie star found a horror movie to star in. Gothika with Halle Berry, Hide and Seek with Robert De Niro, and...and...dammit, the one with the couple who have the kid who dies but they clone him but the clone turns weird when it reaches the age at which the original died... anyone? Didn't see it.
What shall we call that category? Celebrity Slummers? Slummer Party? Slummer Party Massacre? Discuss.