I remember watching End of Days as a teenager and being blown away by its “dark and satanic” narrative. Little did I know that some twenty-five years later I would be laughing my ass off at those same scenes. End of Days blends all the popular topics of that era and condenses them into one glorious and action-packed mess. The only thing that’s surprising is the really dark cinematography. And when I say dark I mean some scenes need the brightness cranked up to the maximum. This, however, cannot spoil all the fun you’re going to have with this devilishly entertaining movie.
We open with the usual flashy credits with all kinds of menacing religious symbols, setting the mood for what’s about to follow. A large shooting star passes over the moon, just as it was foretold centuries ago. And the boys in the Vatican are getting nervous and I don’t mean the actual boys as they always are but the higher-ups. Now, they’re snatching babies and performing rituals. After all this, we find weary Arnie desperately trying not to kill himself. His wisecracking partner appears and soon they’re off to save a businessman from a sniping priest.
Now, I skipped some parts but all this happened in the first twenty minutes of End of Days. I mean, I secretly knew that New York is a place where Satan would appear. However, I didn’t know it’s going to be this much fun. The storytelling here is utterly comical and we transition from one scene to another with hilarious explanations. This is what you get when you use only broad bullet points instead of a narrative, constantly saying “fuck it, let’s just …….”. It’s incredibly fun to watch just to what lengths they’re willing to go in order to make sense of the next scene. How come Arnie knew where she lived? Oh, we’ll just make the priest write it out. A movie like this is screaming for another great Screen Rant. So, you’ve got a movie for me?
We got flammable piss, superstrong grandmas, and epic action scenes, what more to want? I think not until I saw Bill Burr’s bit about how Arnold is a great man that I started to notice his groans. His impression was just so funny that now every time I hear him groan I just burst out laughing. And he will be doing a lot of groaning here. Gabriel Byrne’s performance was simply phenomenal and it includes one hell of a speech towards the end of the movie. It doesn’t really rival the one in Devil’s Advocate but it’s close enough.
One of the things that I remember as a young questioning atheist is that I simply loved this exploration of religion and its logic. However, do not attempt to make sense of the inner logic of this movie. Mostly because it’s nonexistent. And quite hilarious if I might also add. For example, Stigmata also starring Gabriel Byrne came out the same year and offered much more coherent storytelling. And if you’re up for more of the occult movies, you can complete the triple 999-666 tour with The Ninth Gate.
Using every cliche in the book, End of Days is a shamelessly entertaining and over-the-top action movie. Using religious motives as a backdrop for its standard-issue Hollywood story, it stands out from the throng of similar movies. Plus, the CGI is pretty good and believable for that time. There are some pretty wild special effects and one nasty creature. So, whether you’ve seen it before or you’re about to for the first time, I promise that you’ll enjoy it.
Director: Peter Hyams
Writer: Andrew W. Marlowe
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak, CCH Pounder, Udo Kier
Fun Facts: Guillermo del Toro was offered the chance to direct, but turned it down.