Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Just because fans expect more of the same out of action sequels doesn’t mean Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning has to feel as familiar as this.

Nov 29, 2012

-By David Guzman


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1368068-Universal_Soldier_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

It takes under two hours for Scott Adkins’ character in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning to kill about as many people as Freddy has in his Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and like Freddy’s film career, this sequel has peaks and valleys. As a matter of fact, the opening scenes of Day of Reckoning show the same ambition that made the first Nightmare intriguing, but part of what made that an excellent horror film was that it broke new ground in the genre. Day of Reckoning lacks the skill to do the same, and its dependence on the genre’s typical tricks doesn’t help. After five previous movies in the franchise, it may be time to lay down the weapons.

The drama kicks off with a break-in that results in the deaths of John’s (Adkins) daughter and wife and puts him in a coma. Though he doesn’t remember much when he awakens, he helps FBI agent Gorman (Rus Blackwell) identify the man responsible for the whole bloody affair as Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a military madman the government’s been chasing since he split and developed a cult with fellow Universal Soldiers hell-bent on seizing control of the country. It’s uncanny that he can recognize the guy by looking at a photograph of him in a ski mask, but whatever.

John’s coma’s compromised his memory to the point where he can’t recall ever coming across stripper Sarah (Mariah Bonner), let alone that brawl she says he started when he caught another man ogling her. Considering everything she’s helped him remember, she’s better company than Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), one of Deveraux’s aggressive cohorts.

John spends most of his time and energy on Magnus (Andrei Arlovski), a sleeper-cell agent who does Deveraux’s dirty work. You’d think it’d be easy to duke it out with somebody foolish enough to choose an ax over the many firearms available, but since John’s the sort of guy who’d punch a bowling ball to smithereens rather than tilt back when he flings it, each of their scenes together feels like a duel between Dumb and Dumber.

At least they’re a blast to watch, probably because director John Hyams has a knack for cerebral imagery. He manages to get agreeable performances out of the cast, even if Van Damme’s underwhelming acting is at a right angle with the material.


Film Review: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Just because fans expect more of the same out of action sequels doesn’t mean Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning has to feel as familiar as this.

Nov 29, 2012

-By David Guzman


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1368068-Universal_Soldier_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

It takes under two hours for Scott Adkins’ character in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning to kill about as many people as Freddy has in his Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and like Freddy’s film career, this sequel has peaks and valleys. As a matter of fact, the opening scenes of Day of Reckoning show the same ambition that made the first Nightmare intriguing, but part of what made that an excellent horror film was that it broke new ground in the genre. Day of Reckoning lacks the skill to do the same, and its dependence on the genre’s typical tricks doesn’t help. After five previous movies in the franchise, it may be time to lay down the weapons.

The drama kicks off with a break-in that results in the deaths of John’s (Adkins) daughter and wife and puts him in a coma. Though he doesn’t remember much when he awakens, he helps FBI agent Gorman (Rus Blackwell) identify the man responsible for the whole bloody affair as Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a military madman the government’s been chasing since he split and developed a cult with fellow Universal Soldiers hell-bent on seizing control of the country. It’s uncanny that he can recognize the guy by looking at a photograph of him in a ski mask, but whatever.

John’s coma’s compromised his memory to the point where he can’t recall ever coming across stripper Sarah (Mariah Bonner), let alone that brawl she says he started when he caught another man ogling her. Considering everything she’s helped him remember, she’s better company than Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), one of Deveraux’s aggressive cohorts.

John spends most of his time and energy on Magnus (Andrei Arlovski), a sleeper-cell agent who does Deveraux’s dirty work. You’d think it’d be easy to duke it out with somebody foolish enough to choose an ax over the many firearms available, but since John’s the sort of guy who’d punch a bowling ball to smithereens rather than tilt back when he flings it, each of their scenes together feels like a duel between Dumb and Dumber.

At least they’re a blast to watch, probably because director John Hyams has a knack for cerebral imagery. He manages to get agreeable performances out of the cast, even if Van Damme’s underwhelming acting is at a right angle with the material.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Red Army
Film Review: Red Army

Non-hockey fans need not worry: This doc about Russia’s famed late-20th-century ice hockey team isn’t just for the converted. But filmgoers who don’t care a fig about Cold War-era tensions, culture clashes and the USSR’s erosion into the new Perestroika-embracing Russia can retire to the locker room, because these dynamics play big roles. More »

TheHumbling review
Film Review: The Humbling

Al Pacino’s superb performance as an aging, psychologically unraveling actor cannot save this pretentious and flat-footed film. More »

Mommy
Film Review: Mommy

Mom-obsessed Xavier Dolan triumphs with this startlingly original, compellingly watchable character study that is simultaneously hilarious, appalling and sad. More »

Manny
Film Review: Manny

Engaging look at legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao is best for hardcore fight fans. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Wedding Ringer
Film Review: The Wedding Ringer

Intermittently amusing bro-comedy trifle that confirms Kevin Hart's talent, though not his taste in material. More »

Paddington
Film Review: Paddington

This feel-good, looks-great first-time big-screen adaptation of the beloved British children's stories about a stowaway Peruvian bear finding his, er, bearings in London is much more than just, oops, bearable. The handsome production greatly benefits from a top-notch cast of some of the U.K.’s finest actors and its beautiful blend of CGI-enriched live action and animated ursine star. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here