Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Well, if nothing else John Hyams follow-up to his Universal Soldier: Regeneration film from a few years back was different.  Very different.  'Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning' is Wildly different from what I'm thinking one would expect from a Universal Soldier movie starring Van Damme, Dolph and Scott Adkins.  This isn't necessarily a good thing or bad thing, but it is something, that's for sure.

John (Adkins) is minding his own business sleeping with his hot wife when his little girl stumbles in the bedroom creaking out 'There's monsters in the house, daddy'.  Get used to hearing that little girl say that a lot in the movie.  So John goes to check it out and eventually he finds the monsters in black masks who proceed to beat him near to death but make sure he's conscious enough to witness his wife and baby girl take bullets to the head.  The odd thing is that the leader of this group takes off his mask, revealing himself to be Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) so John could see him, but still allowed John to live.  Peculiar. 

Eventually John wakes up after an extended coma and proceeds to go about the business of finding this man who murdered his family.  Now this is the point where 'Reckoning' gets really strange, at least as far as me following along with the narrative.  On one side of town we have John, trying to piece his life back together, but there seem to be large chunks of John's life that his brutal beating has erased from his memory.  For instance recognition of the hot stripper Sarah (Mariah Bonner) that he apparently used to kick it with is completely lost on him.  And he only ran into the hot stripper after some distraught guy called him desperate for help, this guy swearing John knew him, even though John could not give this guy the help he needed.
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But on the other side of town we have a team of Universal Soldiers, including the completely out of his mind Andrew Scott (Lundgren) who have somehow freed themselves from the psychological control constraints of their handlers and are now free thinking entities who now pay homage to their leader and Messiah Luc Deveraux.  Luc Deveraux the Messiah just doesn't sound like a good thing to me for some reason.  What's bad for John is that it looks like Messiah Devereaux wants him dead for some reason, and as such he has dispatched super tough unisol Magnus (Andrei Arlovski) to handle this light weight.  Sure, we thought Magnus had died in the last movie, and Deveraux could've killed John a long time ago while he was killing his family, but all will be revealed soon enough. 

With the stripper by his side and Magnus on his ass, John will get the answers he seeks.  I don't think he's going to like these answers too much, but he will get them and it will be a bloody mess.

Categorizing Mr. Hyams 'Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning' isn't as cut and dry as it seems.  Yes, it is an action movie with all the action trimming that one would expect from a movie starring Scott Adkins, and make no mistake about it, despite the presence of both Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, both of whom barely put in enough time in this film to qualify for cameo status, Scott Adkins is our star.  There are car chases and gratuitous nudity and  fist fights and shoot outs and enough bullets to the head for three movies.  So while this is an action film, it's also very esoteric in its presentation, almost horror-movie like in the pacing and coloring, and not to mention the occasional jump scare, something we couldn't say about the previous film which while plenty entertaining was also plenty stupid.  Reckoning aspires to be more than just a simple, mindless, balls to the wall action film and we freely admit that we admire John Hyams for taking the chance on making this happen. 

That being said, the question remains 'did we enjoy 'Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning'?  Well… not as much as I would've liked to have enjoyed it.  While the action is superior, just as it was in the last movie, the narrative was so vague and murky that I, personally, never got completely integrated into the story.  Starting out, the pace was lethargic, and the confusing narrative didn't give this audience member much of a hint as to where in the hell it was going, which I think would've made the murky story a little more interesting.  No worries as everything that was going on in the life of John will become pretty clear, more or less, but getting to that point at times was a bit of chore.

Now by the time we near the conclusion things start to clear up, the story murky story obviously becomes much clearer and things that we have seen begin to make sense and thus you may be of the mind that the destination was worth the journey.  Me, not so much. 

Still, Scott Adkins is always a joy to see in action, Dolph and Jean Claude's stay in this movie, while brief, was enjoyable and the action as per usual was top notch.  I imagine if there is a follow up after this movie, all of the legwork has been taken care of in this edition and the subsequent film will be more coherent and concise now that the change in direction for the Universal Soldier is complete.  Of course we will be looking forward to that movie should it come to fruition, no matter what we might've just said here.
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