PFF ’12: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning review
There is a certain magic found in every violent action film. It lies somewhere between the great one liners, over-the-top kills, and beautifully choreographed fight scenes. That simple magic that is lost entirely in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. A semi-sequel to Universal Soldier: Regeneration based on the 1992 film Universal Soldier.
The plot follows John (Scott Adkins) as he fights to piece together the events leading up to the murder of his wife and daughter. Meanwhile, Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) the former leads of the Universal Soldier Saga act as the villains, creating a cult founded upon the former subjects of the government Unisols program. The movie has everything you would come to expect from a standard 90s action fill: extreme violence, overplayed eroticism, guys that look like they’ve just come out a steroid binge going at it with the choreographed finesse of ballet dancers. However, there is a missing element of fun that made those iconic action films of the 90s the cult hits they are today. The story seems to jerk the characters around like a busted carnival ride, it never seems sure if it wants us to sympathize with those involved or hate them.
This is Scott Adkins’ third soiree with Dolph Lundgren, the first of which was the forgettable The Shepherd: Border Patrol, and the second being the novel, yet flawed, Assassination Games, where they seem to have all of the elements there, they just execute it in such a flawed and frustrating way that the action just becomes a soulless tedium rather than cheer filled action fest. By the climax of the third act, I found myself so disinterested in the characters and their plight that what might have been a noteworthy action sequence became a slog of kills that only brought me joy in knowing that the movie was soon to be over. Much of it seemed video game inspired did not help the overwhelming sense of desensitization that hung with me throughout.
It is a shame that the movie lacked any real substance because of the one or two memorable fights that are seemingly injected to keep the audience interested, but they were interesting fights none-the-less. The 3D did have its moments especially when weapons were involved. Those cool moments were simply not enough to save this movie from being a jumbled mess of action scenes combined with purely shock value violence.
On the Infamous Cinedork.com/Pretentious Film Majors 5-star scale, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning gets 2 Dolph Lundgrens out of 5.