Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Dir: John Hyams
Star: Scott Adkins, Dolph Lundgren, Mariah Bonner, Jean-Claude Van Damme

Despite the cover, this is not about Lundgren vs. Van Damme. Its here is John (Adkins), who has to watch as Luc Devereaux (JCVD) kills his wife and daughter. After getting out of hospital, John vows to track down the killer, only to find himself pursued by a relentless Universal Soldier, and with an apparent double life, involving stripper Sarah (Bonner) and a life as a truck driver, of which he has absolutely no memory. Turns out Devereaux and Scott (Lundgren) have founded a movement dedicate to liberating UniSols from their government-enforced mind-control. reversing the brainwashing and giving them at least a measure of freedom - though, in reality, it means more being under the thrall of those two, rather than the federal authorities. Not that John really cares: he's on a mission to avenge his family, and anything that gets in his way will find itself pummelled into oblivion. Except, are those memories genuine? Or is there another agenda present in his subconscious?

I guess credit is due for trying to make an existentialist action movie, that addresses questions such as: what do we mean by "reality", what does "mean" mean, and why am I using so many quote marks? Okay, I lied about the last one. However, the credit is largely wasted on a storyline that's so muddied in the exposition, I had to explain it to Chris - and, to be honest, that was only possible because I'd read a synopsis on Wikipedia prior to watching. Hyams, for no readily apparent reason, is also overfond of a strobe effect that has the potential to cause seizures in some viewers, though I did kinda like some of the more out-there flourishes, such as the fight scene accompanied entirely by drone techno. Adkins does make a good impression: there's one particularly memorable scene designed to look like one take (it's not), where he chews up the entire UniSol base. However, both Lundgren and Van Damme should definitely be put out to pasture now - we watched this immediately after the original, and in comparison, it's like they're now working in slow-motion. I suppoose this is at least different: however, the results act as reminder that different is not necessarily good.

[November 2012]

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