Six: The Mark Unleashed: Part 1
It’s always sad to see wasted potential. Decent acting, a suitably spooky premise, a moody score, and the ever-popular addition of a Baldwin Brother. And it’s all ruined by a world so poorly built (or should I say unbuilt) and a plot so damned draggy, that the movie is all but impossible to watch in a single sitting. This movie is so confused that it appears to have confused itself.
Well, that’s it, folks—my critique of Six: The Mark Unleashed!
You know me—why would I say in four sentences what I can say in four parts?
And, shocking though it may be, there actually is some interesting stuff here. Not very much of it, mind, and all buried under layers of boringness, but there all the same.
Six: The Mark Unleashed does itself no favors whatsoever by opening with a shot of Hitler. No, really: after the credits, Hitler is the first person we see.
Yeah, we get it. Hitler, the Antichrist.
And, and hey! There’s Lenin. Boy, they’re not into subtlety, are they?
Okay, that is unspeakably goofy—stock footage of Hitler, stock footage of Lenin, cheap old movie of Jesus. Boy, Jesus sure was a white guy, wasn’t he?
But hey, on with the show!
We keep seeing the same faces crop up again and again here at Heathen Critique, and the first person we hear is one David White, who you may remember from when he was a pimply young teen, saving his parents from the horror of divorce by keeping their unhappy marriage together through the power of his prayers.
Presumably, this is in the not-too-distant-future (next Sunday, A.D.):
Brody: I still remember…Saturday morning cartoons, must-see TV, news—fair and balanced. I also remember the first and second Gulf Wars, the second Great Depression, school shootings. And the music. It’s the music I miss the most. There was freedom then. Freedom to do terrible things, but freedom all the same.
A refreshiongly multi-ethnic, wide-age-ranged group of people is watching a totally futuristic recording of a young woman, introducing them to the greatness of “The Community“: a system of living in which monogamy is obsolete, and everyone can “move among partners, male or female” (gasp!). All because of the “implant” they now have. (The Mark of the Beast, natch.)
Brody’s voiceover continues, and he tells us of his (as yet nameless) fiancée, who was “killed in the first Purge of the Leader,” in which 80 million people were killed in just one day in the United States. (About one quarter of our current population. Pretty impressive, though not one word is said about how they were killed, or why the Leader ordered this Purge, or why people are now so happy to join the Community (and, indeed, we will learn that many join willingly.))
Oh well, I’m sure such details aren’t important.
Oh oh: in case we aren’t freaked out enough by the spectre of homosexuality, we are now informed that the implant also functions as birth control (gasp! choke!) and that you need permission from The Leader to spawn.
Seems like micromanaging on his part.
Still, with both teh gays and teh pill, we now know it’s serious.
More backstory on Brody: prior to the Purge and the Community, he was a “designer, engineer, and test-driver for Chevrolet.” Really, one guy does all three of those things? Because they’re…kinda different.
But, now that the Tribulation is upon us (though I don’t think the word is ever used in the whole course of the movie) Brody has turned that skill set to different use, by pairing up with a young hacker named Jerry. Together, they steal high-end cars and sell them on the black market: Jerry hacks the garage’s security system, Brody does the actual sneaking in and taking of the car.
(White and Downes have co-starred before: in The Moment After and the The Moment After 2 (“The Moment After That?) More post-Rapture fare—let me know if you’re interested in seeing me critique those!)
(Speaking of the Rapture…this movie doesn’t speak of it. So it seems that Six: The Mark Unleashed is taking a mid-tribulation position, as opposed to our old friends LaHaye and Jenkins, who are pre-tribulationists.)
We find that The Leader is on the radio pretty much all the time (which explains Brody’s complaint about music). This reminds me of nothing so much as the MST3k episode Stranded in Space, which also featured a totalitarian government with a totalitarian radio show.
The Leader (on the radio): Only by seizing what we want, taking what is rightfully ours and destroying those who get in our way, can mankind truly be fulfilled.
Brody (to the radio): Well, I’m with you there.
The Leader: What is that fulfillment? The deification of mankind itself. Each one of you can become God, as I am God. Each one of you has my spirit in you, through the holy implant.
Brody: But you always lose me.
Damn. Okay, I…kinda like Brody. He makes sense. Most of all, Brody doesn’t align himself with the implant-havers or the Christians. He’s staked out his own damn side.
Sadly, we all know what happens when a nonbelieving character in a Christian film is sensible and sympathetic.
Brody and Jerry take the car to their fence and, in what I can only hope is a moment of wit, drive past “Locust Street.”
Eric Roberts may get high billing in this movie, but don’t get attached to Dallas. Is all I’m saying.
As Tom showcases his wares, we learn more about The Leader: that he “nuked the South all the way down to Cuba,” thus making the cigars Tom supplies that much more precious.
Tom: I got more: five cases of banned DVDs. You ever see Schindler’s List?
Dallas: I never even heard of it.
Tom: Well, it’ll make you feel like a hero. There’s some real classics: Papillon, Braveheart, Lawrence of Arabia.
Dallas: They any good?
Tom: What do I look like, man, a film critic?
WAIT A SECOND
Do you see what I mean about this movie being confused? Not ten minutes ago, Brody said he remembered both Gulf Wars, but Dallas, who has a good fifteen years on Brody, doesn’t know Schindler’s List? Remember, none of these characters have the implant, and the implant doesn’t even have a basic memory-wiping capacity (at least, not for everyone). So why doesn’t American Dallas know these movies?
(Another note on timelines: it can’t be that far into the future: Six came out in 2004, and Brody would have to have been born in the early 1980s, at the very latest, in order to have an independent memory of the first Gulf War. So, again, what gives with Dallas not knowing famous movies?)
Tom’s little party is broken up by three agents of The Leader: two nameless dudes and Jessica, Tom’s ex-wife. You see, Jessica opted for the implant and Tom did not. Despite this (and despite referring to her as “Gestapo*”, and despite declaring that he would rather be shot than take the implant), Tom is clearly still carrying a torch for Jessica.
*See what I mean??? Tom knows what “Gestapo” means, but Dallas doesn’t know Lawrence of Arabia!
It is Dallas who is taken outside and shot—Jessica determines in approximately one second that he has been using a fake implant and only pretending to be part of The Community. (Of course we don’t see this death—not only is this a Christian film, but it would necessitate an effects budget.)
Jessica also knows that Tom still cares for her, and is quite ready to play on this: She has an “assignment” for him…one that would allow him to see Jessica and avoid the implant and avoid death…
Cut back to Brody and Jerry, delivering the car to their fence, Tiny (the second huge-man-named-“Tiny” featured on this site!). Like Dallas, Tiny had a fake implant, but Brody quickly sees that it has been replaced with a real one.
In another instance that I hope was wit, but was probably about padding out the running time, an “exciting” car chase ensues. But it ends less excitingly than might be hoped…as the stolen car has almost no gas in it. And so, Brody and Jerry end up in prison.
And I mean that very literally. They’re pulled over—BOOM—they’re in prison. So, no trials in Leaderville? I assume not, but it wouldn’t hurt to say so. Also, everyone in the prison is subject to the following bizarre time limit: choose to take the implant within three weeks of arrival, or be killed. This is true of car thieves, like Jerry and Brody, and Christians (we’ll meet them soon). Also, is it a crime to be a Christian, all by itself, or have the Christians all been arrested on other charges? Also also, why is bearing a false implant subject to immediate execution, but being a Christian allows you three weeks to change your mind?
Again, I’m sure I’m thinking about this way too much. And way more than the writers did.
But I am now distracted, because THERE’S BRAD HELLER!!!
Like so many movie torturers, this guy loves his work. He really, really loves it. And in case that wasn’t just enough to convince Christian viewers that he is a Bad Guy, our torturer likes to get up close and personal with his victims.
Very up close and personal
Also, the torturer’s name is Preston, but I am amusing myself by pretending that it actually IS Larry, and he never did convert after being accosted by Jesus late that one night. And got that high-paying job he always wanted. 😉
And Larry, you know I love you, man, but that’s John Winchester you’re screwing with. Best be careful.
Torture has apparently advanced in Leaderville: instead of actual physical tortures, you get wires attached to you and they send pain sensations to your brain—the feeling of being burned, of having skin peeled off (eww…), etc. Tom is enough of a Manly Hero to insult his torturer, but he also cries, and I kinda like that balance. (This is where the “Christians always forgive me when I torture them” line happens—Larry appreciates that Tom is honest about his anger.)
Out in the prison yard, Brody and Jerry and some other prisoners watch as six guys are beheaded. Two interesting things of note here:
1. This prison has both male and female guards, but only male prisoners
2. They use the flimsiest plastic sheets in the world to hold the guys’ necks down before they are decapitated.
See? (Also, there’s the mark, in red, on the plastic-holder-thingie.)
Back in Larry’s Torture Emporium, Tom is totally broken. That is the cue for Larry to exit and Jessica to enter as the balm. Now that Tom is in the proper frame of mind, he immediately agrees to the assignment.
Jessica: They want you to find a man named Elijah Cohen and kill him.
Tom (sobbing): He’s dead. He’s a dead man.
We end the day with Brody and Jerry in their cell. Hilariously, the totalitarian regime sees absolutely nothing wrong with their capital prisoners decorating their cells (and I do mean every single inch of the cells) with Bible verses in many bright colors of marker.
Yeah, the guards are real hard-asses here, aren’t they?
Time for Brody to make sense again!
Jerry: You sound depressed.
Brody: I’m a little depressed. Something about watching people get their heads chopped off brings me down.
Jerry’s…not too swift, is he?
But hey, at least he can read the writing on the wall! (Har.)
Jerry: Y’know, it says over here, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all, shall not freely give us all things.” What do you think that means?
Brody: I’ll tell you what it means: it means if God even exists, he murdered his own kid. They seem to think that was good. So he’ll let all of us be burned, too. I didn’t see him coming to help those losers, did you? They got their heads chopped off, and God was nowhere in sight.
Brody kicks ass.
He is so doomed.
Next time: introduction of a Baldwin Brother!