Runtime: 114 Mins
I finally received a copy of this movie this weekend on Blu Ray. I’ve been meaning to catch it in 3D. This movie, Universal Soldier: A Day of Reckoning, is a mean and nasty psychological thriller with a streak of incredible fight scenes running up its back. It’s directed by John Hyams, who gave life back to the franchise with Universal Soldier: Regeneration. That film was possibly the most effective DTV ever, a rough yet effective action movie where a skilled director makes the best out of a low budget. Here, Hyams returns with a larger budget and American shooting location – but unfortunately with less Van Damme and Lundgren. It’s not really a sequel, and in a way its not really even an action movie. It’s a standalone story-driven ‘episode’ using characters and ideas from the previous movies as a base. It’s an experiment and departure. In some ways it works, in some ways it doesn’t.
A lot of people won’t like this movie, especially people only vaguely familiar with the franchise (Say, someone who has only seen the first movie). It’s in a little world of its own. Van Damme (another extended cameo, for fucks sake), the original UniSol, has gone rogue and sets up his own cult/militia made up of former and current UniSols, all hell bent on going to war with the Government that used them as servile slabs of meat. Without spoiling the movie, Scott Adkins somewhere fits into this dispute and has his own score to settle. I liked the concept tried here, but only after it explains itself – its all over the place untill a swerve/twist puts all the pieces together, something that almost comes too late and at (almost) too high a price. In the meantime and leading up to that finale, there’s a lot of dead weight and Adkins, the main character, does a lot of aimless wandering. But he also does a lot of fighting, and Jesus Christ, in that regard it is something to behold, even for an Adkins movie.
The real worth of this movie will ultimately be its replay value. It fucks around with a concept that is maybe out of its league, but it may lose some dead weight wasted on building its twist on 2nd viewing, if not, it still has the best fight sequences since The Raid.
REVIEW SCORE 7/10