Xavierpop Does @TADFilmFest – Louis Reviews ‘Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning’
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning is the latest of a multitude of films in the Universal Solider universe. Starting with science fiction film Universal Soldier in 1992, the series follows the life of Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) as a reanimated solider who breaks his mind control and goes after one time nemesis Andrew Scott (Dolf Lundgren). While a great example of mid 90’s action, it spawned several sequels that have had neither the budget nor the talent of the original. This latest attempt is no exception.
John (Scott Adkins) sees his wife and daughter killed in front of him. Waking from a coma months later, he is told that Luc Deveraux is the man responsible. Attempting to figure out who Deveraux is, why he killed his family and tracks him down has John putting together the pieces of his broken life. Interplaying this is Magnus (Andrei Arlovski) making dead just about everyone he meets, and then set on the trial of John. A few twists and turns, plus the inclusion of a dancer named Sarah (Mariah Bonner), finds the inevitable meeting between John and Deveraux, with a stop-off to visit Andrew Scott first.
Cartoonish action movies always follow a very simple formula of alternating between action and story in a regular and established pattern. It allows for enough story to explain the action while not being overly taxing on one’s willing suspense of disbelief. When a writer and director try to alter this basic construct, by either not having enough action, or by having an overly complex story, then the movie usually fails in its aim.
Such is the case with this film.
The story attempts to over explain certain concepts about why actions are being taken by some characters, yet fails to even provide a basis for motivation of others. From the moment we watch Deveraux kill John’s family, there is never an explanation why. There is never an explanation of why Magnus is sent after John. Deveraux stands around looking stoic while his ‘army’ gets drunk and fights with itself all day.
Director John Hyams brings to life the screenplay he, along with Doug Magnuson and Jon Greenhalgh co-wrote. While the concepts and are ideas are good, the production suffers on all levels from budgetary and talent constraints. Looking as if it were shot on home video, the sets are strikingly fake appearing as disjointed as the plot. The sound mostly works, but the generic soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable or unique. The inclusion of a flashing screen as device to show the alteration of mental state that was used throughout the film is quite long and taxes the viewers patience.
Overall a poorly made film that lacks a good story and underused the talents of the action stars on the billing. Although there were some well done fight scenes and action sequences, they are neither unique or original enough to warrant having to sit through the convoluted story to do so.