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In 1979, a newborn girl named Christine York is identified by Satanists, including Christine's doctor Dr. Abel (Udo Kier), and her guardian, Mabel (Miriam Margoyles), as the one chosen to bear Satan's son during the last hour on New Year's Eve, 1999, thanks to a symbol on her arm. As she is being born, a priest in the Vatican witnesses a comet, described as the "Eye of God", heralding the birth of the one chosen to be the mother of Satan's child. The priest is then sent on a mission by the Pope to protect the girl. However, a group of other priests insist that she must be sacrificed to prevent Satan's plans.
Twenty years later, near the end of 1999, retired police officer Jericho Cane (Schwarzenegger), in a constant state of depression since his wife and daughter were murdered by a hitman, is assigned to protect a Wall Street banker (Gabriel Byrne). They are attacked by a priest named Thomas Aquinas (Derrick O'Connor; Thomas Aquinas is also the name of a 13th century Roman Catholic theologian), who is eventually captured and taken to a hospital. Unknown to Jericho, Aquinas somehow knew the real identity of the banker – he has been possessed by Satan and now wields great powers. Satan locates Aquinas and, after taunting the helpless priest, brutally murders him, crucifying him on the ceiling. Jericho and his friend Bobby Chicago see a name amongst many other things scratched into Aquinas's skin, and after some guesswork, begin searching for Christine York.
Jericho and Chicago find the now-adult Christine (Robin Tunney) in her apartment, and save her from a group of Vatican Knights who want her dead. That evening, Chicago waits in a van while Jericho discusses the recent happenings with Christine. Satan arrives and blows up the van, killing Chicago. As Jericho and Christine try to flee, they are apprehended by Mabel, but Jericho manages to overpower her. Outside, Marge (CCH Pounder), Jericho's superior from his days in the police force, and another police officer – both Satanists – confront Jericho, demanding Christine. Jericho shoots both of them dead. He and Christine escape to a nearby church, seeking answers from a priest, Father Kovak (Rod Steiger).
Kovak soon realizes Christine and the banker's roles, and describes how at the end of every millennium, Satan will possess a man's body to consummate with the flesh of a preordained woman. If he succeeds in taking Christine, then he will have free rein over the world. After hearing that the only way to defeat Satan is to "have faith", Jericho tries to persuade Christine to go into hiding with him, but she prefers to stay. Frustrated, Jericho returns to his apartment. There, Satan meets with Jericho and tries to tempt him with his lost family in order to make him reveal Christine's location. Fortunately, Jericho resists and manages to throw Satan out the window. Then Chicago shows up, alive and well. Despite Jericho's initial suspicion, they make a plan to retrieve Christine.
At the church, Jericho fends off another attempt on Christine's life by the Vatican Knights. Satan then appears and Jericho flees with Christine. However, Chicago then betrays the two; he leaves with Christine while Jericho is beaten by a mob of Satanists and left for dead. The next morning, Jericho is found and rescued by Kovak, and immediately arms himself heavily to resume his search for Christine. He notices a resurrected Marge and tails her to Satan's hideout. There, he manages to rescue Christine and kill Marge for the second time. Chicago steps in to stop Jericho, revealing that Satan resurrected him in exchange for his help in capturing Christine. He manages to fight off Satan's influence after some persuasion by Jericho; in retaliation, Satan burns him alive. Enraged, Jericho opens fire on Satan and escapes with Christine in the ensuing chaos.
The two make their way through Satan's hideout and into a subway tunnel. They board a train (modeled as an R33) and attempt to escape. Satan catches up with them and kills the conductor. In the ensuing fight, Jericho launches an M203 grenade at Satan's body, buying time for him and Christine to escape. The banker's body is now irreparably damaged, and so Satan leaves it to find a new host.
Jericho and Christine escape to the streets and into another church, where as a last resort, he prays to God. Satan smashes through the floor and confronts Jericho in his true form, a massive, demonic dragon. He enters Jericho's body and possesses him. Now controlled by the Beast, Jericho attempts to rape Christine, but with the help of her begging words, he is able to fight Satan's control for a few seconds. Using what may be his only opportunity, Jericho impales himself on the sword protruding from a fallen statue of Michael the Archangel, thus disabling his body for the few remaining seconds before midnight. At midnight, Satan is pulled out of Jericho's body and sent back to Hell. After being granted a vision of his wife and daughter smiling at him, Jericho dies shortly thereafter.
Christine thanks the deceased Jericho for saving her life as New York celebrates the start of the year 2000.
Nel 1979 a New York, in un ospedale di Manhattan, nasce Christine. Lo stesso giorno in Vaticano un cardinale informa il Papa di questa nascita, temuta per secoli. La bambina porta il marchio dell'Anticristo ed è stata scelta per un'unione blasfema. Dopo un battesimo poco ortodosso nella sala mortuaria dell'ospedale, la bimba viene restituita alla madre, ma niente è più come prima. Venti anni dopo, il 28 dicembre 1999, siamo ancora a New York. Jericho Cane, ex-poliziotto disilluso dopo la morte di moglie e figlia, svolge con il collega Chicago il lavoro di addetto alla sicurezza. Un giorno salva una ragazza da una banda di aggressori: si chiama Christine York e confida a Cane di essere perseguitata fin da piccola da terrificanti visioni di cui non capisce i motivi e non riesce a liberarsi. Christine è l'inconsapevole oggetto del desiderio di un Uomo, ultima incarnazione del Male: l'unione tra loro darà il via all'era del Diavolo. Cane decide allora di prendere la difesa della ragazza: deve difenderla non solo dall'Uomo ma anche da frange di cattolici oltranzisti arrivati dal Vaticano. Christine resta prigioniera ma alle 23 del 31 dicembre Cane riesce a liberarla e insieme scappano. Inseguiti dall'Uomo, alle 23.51 si rifugiano in una chiesa. Dopo un duro scontro, c'è un'esplosione dalla quale emerge un mostruoso diavolo tentacolare. Alle 23.57 anche Cane è ormai 'posseduto' dal male. Resiste, fa scappare Christine, poi muore, sacrificandosi così per salvare il mondo. "GIORNI CONTATI" è uno sguardo emozionante e terrificante sulla vigilia del nuovo millennio, sui timori e sugli incubi che essa porta con se, e uno sguardo sulla perdita e riscoperta di fiducia in se stesso di un uomo. A completare l'equipe di talenti che hanno operato dietro le quinte c’è il maestro degli effetti speciali e dell’animazione Stan Winston (vincitori di molti premi Oscar per gli effetti speciali e per il trucco di film come "Heartbeeps", "Aliens", "Terminator 2: Il Giorno del Giudizio". Questa è la quinta volta che Schwarzenegger e Winston lavorano insieme).