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

War Story
Film Review: War Story

Infuriatingly slow, enervating and basically empty contemplation of war's impact, and a waste of the formidable talent of a gallant Catherine Keener. More »

Happy Christmas
Film Review: Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg's latest feature is a collection of strong individual scenes and performances that never quite finds its statement of purpose. More »

Very Good Girls
Film Review: Very Good Girls

More of a meandering, misguided path than a road to hell, Naomi Foner’s directing debut, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as 18-year-old BFFs, is similarly filled with good intentions. More »

The Kill Team
Film Review: The Kill Team

Marine Adam Winfield goes on trial in a case in which U.S. soldiers murdered innocent Afghanis. Strong subject marred by poor narrative choices. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Get On Up
Film Review: Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman is sensational in this multi-faceted portrait of troubled, pioneering soul-music giant James Brown. More »

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. 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