Well, did it really surprise anyone that Schwarzenegger was going to go up against the Devil? He’s beaten just about every other kind of villain you can think of, so why not a bout with Lucifer himself?
This time round Arnie is a retired cop dragged into a plot involving Old Nick coming to Earth and wanting to create the anti-Christ (well, why try anything new?) with the aid of a baby born on a certain date. Seems this baby grows up to be Robyn Tunney (The Craft). She’s been groomed and looked after by a bunch of Satan worshippers ready for this very special day.
Little did ole trident-tail prepare for the likes of Arnie getting in the way. But everyone has their baggage, and this time Schwarzenegger is a non-believer thanks to the premature death of his wife and child. Can he get over the pain caused, avoid temptation and save an innocent girl from her fate? Tune into the next paragraph to find out.
Yes he can. And he does. And he sacrifices himself in the process to do so. And with a name like Jericho Cane in a biblical thriller, what else would you expect apart from cheese? It has clearly been influenced by other films at the time, the grime of Seven being a big one. And yet this film fails to rack up any tension. Arnie himself doesn’t help matters. The scene where the Devil makes his offer and we see Arnie tempted is woeful. His switch from tempted to rebuke is quite hilarious and is a new low for Arnold the actor. In fact, this film really doesn’t rank highly in Arnie’s often dodgy oeuvre.
It’s a shame too, because his decent covering of stubble looked good on him. But then again, having stubble in Hollywood thrillers sometimes means you can’t be bothered to shave because you are an alcoholic dealing with the death of a loved one.
The film takes a few ludicrous turns: The Devil literally has power at his fingertips, and is more than capable of possessing people too, including our hero, so the plot develops massive holes to allow Arnie to defeat him. Yup! Seems all of us mere mortals can’t resist the Devil, but the moment he possesses Arnie, he is forced to commit, er, the ultimate sin (suicide), thereby doing away with Beelzebub.
As for the rest of the film, Kevin Pollack is pretty much wasted in his sidekick role; he’s offed early, then brought back from the dead to emphasise the power of evil over humanity. Gabriel Byrne (who himself fought the forces of evil the same year in Stigmata) makes a pretty good Prince of Darkness.
Arnie’s robo-delivery aside, the acting wooden spoon goes to Peter Hyams (Outland, 2010, and Van Damme movies Timecop and Sudden Death) who clearly is on the decline. Sadly he slipped further with A Sound of Thunder before making a comeback of sorts as DoP for his son John.